ser dontos hollard

  • Lady padded quietly by her side. She was almost in tears. All she wanted was for things to be nice and pretty, the way they were in the songs. 
  • Sansa screamed. Joffrey slashed at Arya with his sword, screaming obscenities, terrible words, filthy words. Arya darted back, frightened now, but Joffrey followed, hounding her toward the woods, backing her up against a tree. Sansa didn’t know what to do. She watched helplessly, almost blind from her tears.
  • She had never seen a man die before. She ought to be crying too, she thought, but the tears would not come. Perhaps she had used up all her tears for Lady and Bran. 
  • There were bodies on the stair of the Tower of the Hand, and the steps were slick with blood. Sansa dried her own tears as she struggled to comfort her friend. They went to sleep in the same bed, cradled in each other’s arms like sisters.
  • His eye was still good, but all around it was a twisted mass of scar, slick black flesh hard as leather, pocked with craters and fissured by deep cracks that gleamed red and wet when he moved. Down by his jaw, you could see a hint of bone where the flesh had been seared away.Sansa began to cry. He let go of her then.
  • Sansa stalked away with her head up. She was to be a queen, and queens did not cry. At least not where people could see. 
  • Her eyes were red from crying, but she did her best to make herself beautiful.
  • This time the knight grasped her beneath the jaw and held her head still as he struck her. He hit her twice, left to right, and harder, right to left. Her lip split and blood ran down her chin, to mingle with the salt of her tears.“You shouldn’t be crying all the time,” Joffrey told her. “You’re more pretty when you smile and laugh.”
  • Boros slammed a fist into Sansa’s belly, driving the air out of her. When she doubled over, the knight grabbed her hair and drew his sword, and for one hideous instant she was certain he meant to open her throat. As he laid the flat of the blade across her thighs, she thought her legs might break from the force of the blow. Sansa screamed. Tears welled in her eyes. It will be over soon. She soon lost count of the blows.
  • Sansa did all that was required of her. There were prayers and vows and singing, and tall candles burning, a hundred dancing lights that the tears in her eyes transformed into a thousand. Thankfully no one seemed to notice that she was crying as she stood there, wrapped in her father’s colors; or if they did, they pretended not to.
  • A good heart. I have a good heart. Hysterical laughter rose up her gullet, but Sansa choked it back down. The bells were ringing, slow and mournful. Ringing, ringing, ringing. They had rung for King Robert the same way. Joffrey was dead, he was dead, he was dead, dead, dead. Why was she crying, when she wanted to dance? Were they tears of joy?
  • It took all her strength not to weep. She had been weeping too much of late. It was unseemly, she knew, but she could not seem to help herself; the tears would come, sometimes over a trifle, and nothing she did could hold them back.
  • “Tears,” she said scornfully to Sansa as the woman was led from the hall. “The woman’s weapon, my lady mother used to call them. The man’s weapon is a sword. And that tells us all you need to know, doesn’t it?’
  • "You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow.” She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say. “Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?”
  • “I saw … I was with the Lady Lysa when …” A tear rolled down her cheek. That’s good, a tear is good. “… when Marillion … pushed her.” And she told the tale again, hardly hearing the words as they spilled out of her.
  • A lady’s armor is her courtesy. Alayne could feel the blood rushing to her face. No tears, she prayed. Please, please, I must not cry. “As you wish, ser. And now if you will excuse me, Littlefinger’s bastard must find her lord father and let him know that you have come, so we can begin the tourney on the morrow." 

-Sansa and her tears

“All the stories can’t be lies”: Sansa and Idealism

He snorted. “There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don’t ever believe any different.”   

Sansa backed away from him. “You’re awful.”     

“I’m honest. It’s the world that’s awful. Now fly away, little bird, I’m sick of you peeping at me.”

Wordless, she fled. She was afraid of Sandor Clegane … and yet, some part of her wished that Ser Dontos had a little of the Hound’s ferocity. There are gods, she told herself, and there are true knights too. All the stories can’t be lies.

There’s a lot that’s been written about Sansa and her journey from naive young girl to having her dreams crushed again and again by the harsh reality of the world. Some even say that Sansa acts as a reflection of the reader, as GRRM ruthlessly deconstructs our expectations of fairy tales, knights, and chivalry. Sansa’s idealism has also been cited by readers who think that she deserved to be punished for it, or that she’s “learned her lesson”. These readers are usually the ones who revel in what they see as the nihilism of ASOIAF. However, I think that’s an incorrect reading of the series, as well as a misunderstanding of Sansa’s purpose within the story.

One of the things I love about Sansa is that she seemingly doesn’t fit with the rest of her family. The Starks are the ruling house of the North, associated with hard winters, rugged terrain, and wild gods. The sigil of House Stark is the direwolf. Not just a wolf, a direwolf, a prehistoric creature of incredible ferocity and strength.

But then there’s Sansa, who loves songs, lemon cakes and pretty dresses, who dreams of romance and gallant knights. Even Sansa’s direwolf is distinguished from the others. And Lady the direwolf becomes an important symbol for Sansa in these books. Lady is Sansa, and represents the injustice of a world where innocents are punished.

“No, not Lady, Lady didn’t bite anybody, she’s good…”

“Lady,” he said, tasting the name. He had never paid much attention to the names the children had picked, but looking at her now, he knew that Sansa had chosen well. She was the smallest of the litter, the prettiest, the most gentle and trusting. She looked at him with bright golden eyes, and he ruffled her thick grey fur.

Lady’s goodness isn’t something that deserves punishment. Like Sansa, she represents something rare and precious that needs to be preserved, something that’s all the more valuable because it exists amidst the harshness of winter.

A lot of people talk about Sansa’s relationship to Sandor Clegane as an essential part of her character development. Sandor influences Sansa by exposing her to the grim realities of King’s Landing and chiding her for her belief in chivalry. There is absolutely truth to this, as Sansa’s story is largely a deconstruction and exposure of the hypocrisy of chivalry. But the “honesty” of Sandor’s nihilism is only a half-truth. I’ve often seen honesty described as a trait associated with Sandor, and I guess it comes from the above quote, but I don’t really think Sandor is all that honest, either with Sansa or with himself.

This is a problem I have with a lot of fans of grimdark fantasy that buy into this idea that the world is terrible and therefore it’s those who strive towards good who deserve to be punished. It’s often used as an excuse to justify bad behavior. Saying that it’s really “the world” or “human nature” that’s awful means we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions. It’s also the kind of philosophy that justifies blaming the victim: “if you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way.”

I don’t think that GRRM is really advocating for this kind of worldview, which is why I think Sansa is one of the most heroic characters in the series because although she does become jaded as the series goes on, she never truly loses her belief in goodness, and I don’t think she ever will.

Petyr Baelish famously tells Sansa “life is not a song, sweetling. One day you may learn that to your sorrow.” This is later repeated when Baelish becomes a major player in Sansa’s story at the end of A Storm of Swords.

“Do you perchance recall what I said to you that day your father sat the Iron Throne?”   

The moment came back to her vividly. “You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow.” She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say.

“Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?”     

“Almost everyone. Save you and I, of course.” He smiled.

The irony here is that Littlefinger has lied to Sansa about almost everything. Littlefinger is far from honest with Sansa about his intentions towards her, but if Sansa believes that her instincts are lies then it’s easier for Baelish to manipulate her. At this point Sansa has been told so often that she’s just a stupid girl, that her interests and dreams are naive and wrong and shallow and that she was wrong to want good things for herself. This is the biggest lie of all, the lie we tell little girls in order to hurt them, and I hope that by the end of this series GRRM will use Sansa to prove this philosophy wrong.

heterophobicmaxanne  asked:

I checked your blog and I couldn't find anything, so sorry if you already answered this, but how do you feel about Robb's treatment of Sansa and Arya and their capitvity/disappearance? Do you think he should/could have handled it differently or better, maybe done more to get them back?

Thanks for the question @clara-the-slytherin-graduate. I haven’t answered it before. I don’t usually write metas because whenever I start, I abandon them shortly because I assume what I have to say has been said before, or because no one asked. But since you have asked, here goes! I am answering your questions in reverse order. Let’s ramble.

 Do you think he should/could have handled it differently or better, maybe done more to get them back?

Robb Stark has just been crowned King of the North and Trident by his bannermen at Riverrun. He knows his sister Sansa is captive in King’s Landing, and has no knowledge of his sister Arya. He comes to accept that Arya is dead somewhere between Catelyn IV and Catelyn V of ASOS, so Robb first needs to get more information about Arya’s whereabouts—is she still in King’s Landing? Is she dead? It would be a poor show of power to trade Jaime Lannister for his sisters and only receive one in return.

Let’s be real. Finding Arya in a giant Westeros is really difficult, especially if you don’t know if she’s alive or not. What should he do, disperse all his forces to scour the Riverlands to find her? Rickard Karstark tried that with Jaime Lannister, and all that caused was death and destruction. That’s a horrible plan to disband your whole army. I think the only thing Robb could have done to help Arya was very publically put a large reward on her safe return. Jaime’s golden armor, maybe. That would be a nice trophy. Both the Brotherhood and the Hound find Arya and intend to ransom her, knowing she is valuable. If the Brotherhood knew exactly how much they would get for returning Arya, that may seem like a more tangible reward that can be used to help their effort, and they would have been more hasty returning her. Maybe not, who knows. Unfortunately, if this proclamation had the intended effect of a more vigorous search for Arya, would perhaps Arya be discovered at Harrenhal while the Northmen are there? I shudder at the thought of Roose Bolton knowingly having Arya in his possession.

Now, the bigger issue is how Robb deals with returning Sansa to him, because he knows she is in King’s Landing. There are three*** ways presented in the books to ensure Sansa’s release. First, surrender. Second, trading Sansa for Jaime Lannister. Third, Robb winning the war.

1) Surrender

“Perhaps I do not understand tactics and strategy … but I understand futility. We went to war when Lannister armies were ravaging the riverlands, and Ned was a prisoner, falsely accused of treason. We fought to defend ourselves, and to win my lord’s freedom.

“Well, the one is done, and the other forever beyond our reach. I will mourn for Ned until the end of my days, but I must think of the living. I want my daughters back, and the queen holds them still. If I must trade our four Lannisters for their two Starks, I will call that a bargain and thank the gods. I want you safe, Robb, ruling at Winterfell from your father’s seat. I want you to live your life, to kiss a girl and wed a woman and father a son. I want to write an end to this. I want to go home, my lords, and weep for my husband.”

AGOT, Catelyn XI

 As Catelyn says, Robb didn’t just march south as his duty as a son to save his father, but also his duty as the grandson of Hoster Tully to defend Tully lands against Tywin Lannister. Catelyn says, “One is done, and the other forever beyond our reach,” but that simply isn’t true. One is not done. Tywin Lannister is still at the head of a huge ass army, and that army is in the riverlands. Sure, Robb could trade four Lannisters and only get Sansa back, and march home, but that doesn’t erase the fact that House Lannister is now in power and broke the King’s Peace and ravaged part of the riverlands, or that the last three Lords of Winterfell were executed on trumped up treason charges. What guarantee would Robb or Hoster or any of their lords have that House Lannister wouldn’t just decide to break the King’s Peace again? None. The Blackfish says it best:

“Peace,” said her uncle Brynden. “Peace is sweet, my lady … but on what terms? It is no good hammering your sword into a plowshare if you must forge it again on the morrow.”

AGOT, Catelyn XI

 2) Trade Jaime Lannister for Sansa

“Cersei Lannister will never consent to trade your sisters for a pair of cousins. It’s her brother she’ll want, as you know full well.” She had told him as much before, but Catelyn was finding that kings do not listen half so attentively as sons.

“I can’t release the Kingslayer, not even if I wanted to. My lords would never abide it.”

“Your lords made you their king.”

“And can unmake me just as easy.”

“If your crown is the price we must pay to have Arya and Sansa returned safe, we should pay it willingly. Half your lords would like to murder Lannister in his cell…”

“But I won’t free him, not even for Sansa and Arya”… “I might have been able to trade the Kingslayer for Father, but …”

“… but not for the girls?” Her voice was icy quiet. “Girls are not important enough, are they?”

ACOK Catelyn I

I think the first thing to note is that Robb was crowned the first ever King of the North and the Trident as a young boy, and he realizes he must earn the devotion of his lords. He’s a green boy who must prove he’s no boy at all (“He was Robb the Lord now, or trying to be”). This is probably why Robb leads from the front, when veterans like Stannis or Tywin can lead from the rear. Robb now must decide between what he wants, and what his kingdom wants/needs. We see Robb fluctuating between “Robb the boy” and “Robb the Lord” and “Robb the King” in Bran and Catelyn’s chapters. The truth of the matter is, as much as Robb the boy wants his sisters home, Robb’s war isn’t really Robb’s at all. It’s not the “War for the Happy Stark Family Reunion,” as much as we want it to be. Robb was made by his lords, and Robb the king realizes Jaime as a hostage/trophy matters more to Lords Blackwood and Bracken and Karstark and Manderly than the safe return of Sansa and Arya Stark, whom these high lords have no emotional investment in. If Robb makes too many decisions that only benefit House Stark and no one else, lords will get disgruntled (like Robb marrying Jeyne Westerling at the same time Catelyn releases Jaime. Two things that are very disconcerting to bannermen as they only benefit Catelyn and Robb).

Again, Catelyn brings up surrendering to get Sansa and Arya back. I would really suggest reading @racefortheironthrone ‘s ACOK Catelyn I chapter analysis, as it brings up some important points. Quick excerpt:

“At the same time, I do think there is a problem with uncritically accepting the argument that “If your crown is the price we must pay to have Arya and Sansa, we should pay it willingly.” King Robb’s crown is at one and the same time both an obstacle and the vehicle for any return of the two Stark sisters – because without his bannermen and their armies, he has no means to compel the Lannisters to hand over his sisters, to end the war, or to keep his family safe.”

Regardless of his bannermen’s wishes, should/could he have traded anyways?

“I should have traded the Kingslayer for Sansa when you first urged it,” Robb said as they walked the gallery. “If I’d offered to wed her to the Knight of Flowers, the Tyrells might be ours instead of Joffrey’s. I should have thought of that.”

ASOS Catelyn IV 

Ah yes, Robb, hindsight’s a bitch. But even still, I don’t think marrying Sansa to Loras Tyrell would have tempted the Tyrells to join Robb over Joffrey, because if I know anything about Mace Tyrell, it’s that he wants Margaery to be queen. Like I said before, when Robb does things that only benefit House Stark, he loses loyalty. When he marries Jeyne, he loses his Frey forces, and when Catelyn releases Jaime, he loses his Karstark army. So, Robb needs to do that as infrequent as possible otherwise he’ll find himself alone. I can’t imagine any scenario where Robb trades Jaime for Sansa and the Karstarks stay loyal, unless, maybe, Robb also included Harrion Karstark in that trade, and if that didn’t work, also offer Sansa’s hand in marriage to Harrion when they are both released. The problem still remains that Robb is a newly minted King and needs to prove himself to his bannermen, and even if he thinks his sisters are equal to Jaime in a trade, his bannermen won’t. If Robb decided to trade anyway, and then only received one sister in exchange, his lords might see him as a toothless wolf not strong enough to achieve independence if he couldn’t even achieve that.

 3) Win the war

Yeah winning and not dying would have definitely helped save Sansa. But how Robb could have helped his war effort is a whole different question, so, different time. 

4) Plan Sansa’s escape

Two ideas not presented in the books are Robb orchestrating Sansa’s escape or seizing King’s Landing himself. Sansa has opportunities to escape with Sandor Clegane and Ser Dontos Hollard, why not one of Robb’s people? The problem with this is that Robb has no one loyal to him in King’s Landing that we or he knows, though if he offered Sansa’s hand in marriage to whoever brought Sansa to him safely perhaps Littlefinger might have jumped on that instead of whisking her to the Eyrie. But how would he know that Littlefinger wants to marry Sansa? Perhaps he could have sent false envoys like Tyrion did, but Northern, honor-bound Robb would never sanction the breaking of guest right.

Possible agents for Robb in ACOK could be the Antler Men, who are loyal to Stannis Baratheon as Stannis marches on the city. Seeing as the entirety of King’s Landing is starving and hating the ruling regime, and that the Antler Men in particular owe the crown significant sums of money, the Antler Men might be really be loyal to who they see as the winning side. If Robb was camped outside King’s Landing, perhaps they would be the Wolf Men. Perhaps if Robb could have sent men in with the hoards of refugees from the war, and they could have found the Antler Men before Varys did, the Antler Man who was Chief Gaoler in the Red Keep could have replaced Dontos in convincing Sansa to escape. It’s a a bit of a stretch. The problem is, this would take time to orchestrate, and it doesn’t take long for the Antler Men to become antlered with nails and put in trebuchets.

5) Seize King’s Landing himself and free Sansa. 

Aside from the strategy (Robb marching to King’s Landing while Tywin is in Harrenhal gives Robb no time to take the city before Tywin smashes him against the outer walls), the biggest problem is that Robb taking King’s Landing all but ensures Sansa’s death. Cersei assures Sansa that “The Starks will have no joy from the fall of House Lannister,” but during The Battle of Blackwater Sansa has opportunity to escape in the chaos. If it was Robb outside instead of Stannis, I don’t think Cersei would let Sansa out of her sight, seeing Sansa’s life as the last bargaining chip for Joffrey’s. Sansa doesn’t mean anything to Stannis. Sansa means something to Robb. If Robb somehow successfully took King’s Landing, I don’t see how Sansa could survive.

***Stannis promises Catelyn to return her daughters to her if he takes the city. Robb, however, does not know this, and has already marched West. As we learn in ASOS Catelyn II Robb was intending to draw Tywin far enough West to not be able to aid King’s Landing in time. I suppose he could have given Edmure clearer orders, or let him in on his plan, and voila Stannis takes King’s Landing and reaches Sansa (hopefully before Ilyn Payne does).

 How do you feel about Robb’s treatment of Sansa and Arya and their captivity/disappearance?

When I personally do any sort of analysis of Robb’s military campaign or Robb as a character, I try to remind myself of a few things.

  1. Robb is 14-16 years old during the series
  2. Robb loves his family
  3. We don’t have a Robb POV so we really don’t know what Robb thinks and feels

Is Robb up late at night worried about Arya and Sansa? Does he think about them all the time? We really don’t know. If we had a Robb POV, would we as readers be less hard on Robb? Probably. In AGOT Robb feels intense pressure in his dad’s place, and when people he loves are in danger he generally reacts in anger (Yoren telling Robb of Benjen, Bran attacked by wildlings, letter from Sansa of Ned’s arrest). But, at the same time, when he tells Bran that Ned is grievously injured, he is rather reserved and sad and worried and lonely. He is different from boy who begged Catelyn for help because he was overwhelmed. You see how he both feels very isolated as the oldest Stark (“I never know how much to tell you Bran. I wish you were older”) but him also accepting that as his burden (“Still … the honor of the north is in my hands now”). After that point, and once he is king, I think all his grief and worry he keeps to himself. I reckon he learned Ned’s lesson of “A lord may love the men that he commands … but he cannot be a friend to them,” and that is why we as readers through Catelyn’s POV may think he comes off as uncaring towards his sisters.

I think a big thing people dislike about Robb is him disinheriting Sansa, which personally, since this is my opinion, I can’t really blame him for. Once Sansa marries Tyrion, Robb says the only way she can ever be free is if he takes off Tyrion’s head. Even Catelyn writes of Sansa as dead, because she thinks as soon as Sansa bears a child they will kill her. When Robb disinherits Sansa, it’s because a 16-year-old is writing his will. 16! Writing a will! (sorry, six-and-ten). Robb at this point is pretty deep in despair. I mean, you gotta be to be that young and writing a will. Maybe Robb thinks publically disinheriting Sansa could somehow protect her. If her claim was made less strong then Jon’s, maybe the Lannisters won’t kill her as soon as she births a child. Who knows, that isn’t mentioned. But I personally can’t really blame Robb that he doesn’t want House Lannister ruling Winterfell. I don’t see it as “I am disinheriting Sansa because she is a woman” as much as “I am disinheriting Sansa because she is married to and a hostage of my mortal enemy.” Maybe other people see it the first way, but I can’t. 

Hope I answered your questions adequately.

Sansa shrank back. “Don’t!” She slid her hand under her cloak, to her hidden knife. “What … what do you want with me?”

“Only to help you,” Dontos said, “as you helped me.”

“You’re drunk, aren’t you?”

“Only one cup of wine, to help my courage. If they catch me now, they’ll strip the skin off my back.”

She drew the knife and held it before her with both hands.

“Are you going to stab me?” Dontos asked.

“I will,” she said. “Tell me who sent you.”

—  Sansa II, A Clash of Kings

“ […] When I heard how you saved his life at Joff’s tourney, I knew he would be the perfect catspaw.”
Sansa felt sick. “He said he was my Florian.”
“Do you perchance recall what I said to you that day your father sat on the Iron Throne?”
The moment came back to her vividly. “You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow.” She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say.