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Thanks to sansalayned for organizing Sansa Appreciation Week! Sorry this is late, but this is for Day 5, favorite scene. 

His hand was shaking.
Oh, no, Alayne thought. Please. Not here. Not now…

Alayne took Robert’s gloved hand in her own to stop his shaking. “Sweetrobin,” she said, “I’m scared. Hold my hand, and help me get across. I know you’re not afraid.”

He looked at her, his pupils small dark pinpricks in eyes as big and white as eggs. “I’m not?”

“Not you. You’re my winged knight, Ser Sweetrobin.”

“The Winged Knight could fly,” Robert whispered.
“Higher than the mountains.” She gave his hand a squeeze.

Lady Myranda had joined them by the spire. “He could,” she echoed, when she saw what was happening.

“Ser Sweetrobin,” Lord Robert said, and Alayne knew that she dare not wait for Mya to return. She helped the boy dismount, and hand in hand they walked out onto the bare stone saddle, their cloaks snapping and flapping behind them. All around was empty air and sky, the ground falling away sharply to either side. There was ice underfoot, and broken stones just waiting to turn an ankle, and the wind was howling fiercely. It sounds like a wolf, thought Sansa. A ghost wolf, big as mountains.

And then they were on the other side. Sansa, AFFC

You know, there’s a lot of talk of Sansa manipulating, and people point to scenes like Sansa/Joffrey when she saves Dontos. But in that scene, and most every other discussed from the earlier books, it’s not a plan. It’s not really conscious. Sansa blurts out Joffrey can’t kill Dontos and then has to scramble for a lie to explain why she reacted that way. It’s quick thinking but not really true control as she needed Sandor to back her up, it wasn’t thought through. But that scene is in ACoK and Sansa has grown considerably since then. 

This scene illustrates the control over her instincts and Sansa’s development as a character. She sees the issue (Robert beginning to shake) and panics, but then she recovers and handles it seemingly effortlessly. 

She doesn’t blurt something out, she collects herself and plays Robert using her knowledge of him. It’s a lot like Arya’s whole playing the person tactics that continued in her Mercy chapter.

Sansa knows Robert Arryn at this point. If she attempts to order him around or tell him to calm down, it’d be useless. But she also knows his pride, how he has such sheltered power thanks to Lysa and his status as Lord Arryn. So instead of trying to command him, instead of pleading with him, Sansa plays into that pride. 

He wants to feel powerful and strong, Sansa uses that as well as subtlety playing up her own fear to assure him of his lack of terror.

I love this moment so much because of a few reasons. For starters, this is in many ways the accumulation of skills and lessons Sansa has obtained through her time in King’s Landing and from Littlefinger. In court, she learned to say what people wanted to hear or expected. She was taught to boost the egos of those around her and control her emotions so that they didn’t manifest in anger or tears. With Littlefinger, he taught her the importance of lying to achieve a specific purpose and to behave in a way that is considered harmless. Both of them enhanced her perceptiveness of people and reading their character.

Sansa utilizes all of that in this moment. She takes her knowledge of Robert, processes it, turns that knowledge into something useful for her situation, manipulates Robert, and all the while appears to Robert as though she wasn’t doing anything at all.

Had Sansa blurted out something or reacted emotionally, she probably would have caused Robert’s shaking to worsen. Moreover, if she didn’t have such a good read on Robert, she may have caused him to have an attack or tantrum as he is a pretty unstable and emotional individual.

She appeals to his as a child, with youthful ideas about himself (“Ser Sweetrobin” the winged knight) and as a proud lord/man (with him needing to be strong for her.)

I just find this scene to be a very underrated Sansa moment. Sure, it’s not her life or death and it may not be very politician/warrior in nature. It’s a very subtle scene, not that noteworthy in a series full of coups and beheadings and battles.

That being said, it’s a favorite of mine. I love Sansa’s growth here. She’s in complete control despite her fear. She handles an unforeseen crisis quickly and efficiently whilst displaying the tricks and teachings of her hardships. She just handles it with maturity and awareness.

I think it’s a precursor in some ways to a Sansa with agency. She reads the person, considers that knowledge, uses it for a purpose, and achieves her means- all the while seeming as though she hasn’t done anything worthy of notice, harmless and not worth worrying over. 

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It’s a staple in this fandom to say that Arya and Sansa are put in positions that best utilize their inherent skill-set. The charming & quiet Sansa maneuvers herself through court politics while athletic & gutsy Arya maneuvers war zones.  That’s not an incorrect observation, but it’s becoming clear to me that from AGOT to ASOS, Arya and Sansa are actually put in situations that appeal to their polar opposite weaknesses, not strengths, which makes their survival even more impressive to me.

[the developed caution Arya “usually-impulsive-but-now-imma-walk-through-a-courtyard-of-gold-cloaks-looking-for-me-like-they’re-zombies-on-the-walking-dead-and-i’m-covered-in-guts-no-biggie-like-a-boss” Stark has been discussed at large already so this will focus on Sansa]

Political courts are inherently social places, but Sansa’s actually an introvert at heart. She prefers intimate activities like needlework and storytelling among friends. At the first tourney, she is fascinated by the pageantry and sights, but the people themselves she mostly sees as idealized versions of themselves from her stories ( Knightly Loras gives her a “special” rose; Chivalrous! Joffrey who cuts her meat even though he smugly agreed to the death of her wolf last she saw him etc). She’s not selfish (that’s something much different), but Sansa’s interior world and observations are the focus of her narration.

Sansa’s introversion gives her great social intelligence and she is actually a good judge of character but this cerebral talent ends up working against her: as donewithwoodenteeth states in this wonderful meta, Sansa has good instincts but she constantly second-guesses them to adjust her worldview to something she can understand and tolerate.(meta goes through some excellent examples like her initial recognition of Joffrey being filled with “nothing but the vilest contempt” being replaced with something she can stomach later). One of her flaws (that contributes to her, in my opinion, the most realistic character in the series) is that she kinda fumbles in a crisis not because she’s empty-headed, like Cersei says, but she thinks too much until she paints a picture of people that doesn’t really exist.

The friendless, social nature of King’s Landing threatens to erase Sansa’s agency and ability to control her own narrative. But she learns socialize with agency in small, but critical ways. She intervenes with Dontos; during Blackwater, she takes over hostess duties and calms the Holdfast during down after Cersei abandons her post; she instinctively helps an injured Lancel even if her mind tells her he’s an enemy; she makes a powerful statement by refusing to kneel at her wedding to Tyrion. Sansa’s selective passivity is instrumental to her survival, but where does she makes strides?

The turning points in Sansa’s development are when she actually trusts her astute gut and comes out of her shell to seize agency where she can. Her arc is equal parts realizing the power passivity AND the realization of public agency.

(As an aside, remember how Sansa saw Littlefinger as a creeper from the start when they first met AND HE STROKED HER HAIR WHILE CALLING HER MOM HOT? that part of her is going to rise from the subconscious soon, and I hope it’s not pretty…)

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elrewin asked: When you think about it, Sansa doesn't seem to have a great self-estime. Better than Arya's, of course, but I don't feel she's really confident in her abilities. Maybe it's one of the reasons she is so eager to fit in the mold, to become the best in what's asked of her.

(My opinion here, very open to interpretation and not something I’m going to debate.)

I don’t know, I disagree with this assessment. I think you’re confusing cause and effect here. Sansa does lack confidence in her own instincts, but i don’t think she truly lacks confidence as a person.

Maybe it’s one of the reasons she is so eager to fit in the mold, to become the best in what’s asked of her.

This is the cause in my mind, not the effect. Sansa was “a lady a three”. And that was ideal, she was praised for it, it’s what was expected of her. At the same time, what does being a “lady” in Westeros really mean? They are meant to be dutiful, soft spoken, accepting, obeying, second to men, ect. They are supposed to never question anything in some ways.

I think society made Sansa this way. She’s the “perfect lady” in some respects. It’s a good thing in that it allows her to function well within society, be praised and loved for it, but at the same time, it’s harmful.

Think of other female POVs. Arya, Brienne, Asha, Arianne, and especially Cersei for instance think on what Westerosi society expects of women, they acknowledge the unfairness, the limitations, the expectations, ect. Sansa, on the other hand, doesn’t really. We don’t have a moment from her where it’s clear she’s aware and/or upset with the placement of women in society.

Sansa is very content with her place as a woman. This isn’t surprising since A) it’s all she’s ever known, B) she’s good at it, and C) that lifestyle seems to appeal to her.

But I think that manifests in Sansa not wanting to assert herself always. She’s the “good girl” who does what’s expected of her. And oftentimes, what’s expected of her is to just take whatever’s being handed to her and told to her and just accept.

Compare Sansa thinking to herself how she never considered having a claim to Winterfell because she had three brothers to Arya asking Ned in AGoT whether or not she could be the lord of a holdfast. Sansa accepted how life was for her, it’s something that resulted in continuous love and praise and affection because that’s how women are supposed to react. Ned, who had Lyanna as a sister, seems conflicted. He loved and respected his sister, but he also believes to some extent that her wildness got her killed. But ultimately, through his comments like “the impossible task of making you a lady” to Arya, we can see that Ned also goes along with the system for the most part. And that’s why Arya’s self-esteem is so poor even though people think that Ned was the cool parent or whatever. He was better than most, but he was still accepting of the system overall. And Arya failed the system in the beginning of the story.

So with Sansa, to me, it’s a partial manifestation of her lady training and how she was raised. 

She questions her instincts on certain things because she was raised to believe that what she’s told by authority was right, it was the truth, that was how things were, and she was accepting and okay with that. Remember this moment in AGoT when Sansa tried to question Ned’s authority directly:

“Sansa, your lord father knows best,” Septa Mordane said. “You are not to question his decisions.”

This is the sum of it. Sansa is “eager to please”, and pleasing for a lady is often abiding by whatever authority figures (almost always men) tell her to think, feel, say, do.

When her life went to hell, it was still expected of her to just take whatever was dealt to her, but now it wasn’t sheltering or not having privileges her brothers had or anything relatively innocuous (comparatively,) now Sansa was supposed to take abuse, reformations of identity, being an accomplice in murders, unwanted marriages, denouncements and mockery towards her family, ect.

And that’s one of the reasons why I think Sansa’s development involves learning to trust her instincts and question. While there was nothing wrong with her being a proper lady by Westerosi society, it’s no longer an option for her to completely fall into that mode for her if she wants to gain agency. The authority figures in her life, the people around her seeking to control her, none of them have her best interest at heart. Sansa needs to assert herself for herself.  

The cause is that Sansa is eager to fit the mold, I think. And the effect becomes that part of fitting in and people pleasing meant never questioning, trusting authority and not her own instincts. As as result, she became accustomed to accepting that her instincts were not the ones to trust, whatever authority was telling her was.

So anyway, that’s how I’ve always interpreted it as. It’s not a lack of confidence in herself so much as something that’s been drilled into her head since she was born. 


I think this is interesting and very true; it also wouldn’t surprise me if it factors into the way that she suppresses her own memories.  She is eager to please and needs to play a part and she feels it so deeply that she then has to go and make things that have happened to her line up in a similar way.  And of course, the things she suppresses are often traumatic and upsetting in some way, but how would a lady react to those things?  She would take them in stride, find the good in them—and that’s what Sansa does, even if it’s at the expense of her instincts and emotional/psychological well-being.

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Anonymous asked: i just read the part where sansa mentions her kiss with sandor that never actually happened and im really confused. is sansa having hallucinations? has she had any other times like this? im confused with how this might affect her in the future but no one seems to be talking about it

I’ve spoken briefly about this before (see here) and when I did, I discussed in detail the Sandor/Sansa “unkiss” (as it has been known to be called.)

And you’re right, not many people really discuss this- or at least not enough that it doesn’t get drowned out by more popular Sansa meta topics. I find with Sansa meta is that most of them are either A) some form of defense against Sansa hate or B) expressing praise for Sansa’s political journey and assumed future role.

I think this is a shame really because then the more subtle nuances of Sansa’s character don’t really get explored in meta as often as they could be considering the sheer bulk of Sansa meta floating around tumblr.

All that being said, I know some people talk about this aspect of Sansa’s character- but normally they only discuss the “Unkiss” and not the various other examples of Sansa’s repression and alteration of memories. 

For starters, just want to answer a bit. No, Sansa is definitely not hallucinating (nor did she “warg” into Sandor during the moment as I have seen some people claim.) But the “Unkiss” is just one instance in a long line of Sansa memory repressions/alterations. This is a very important element of her character- one that makes her the quintessential unreliable narrator as well. And it has already greatly impacted her life.

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I’m going to break this ask into parts to make my rambling more manageable. Let’s start with Sansa Stark, because I am always ready to talk about my baby goddess princess Sansa Stark. Also Catelyn, because Catelyn is great. Spoilers for the first three book (roughly equivalent to season 1-3; I don’t get to the season 4 or book 4 and 5 stuff)

People who don’t like Sansa or Catelyn will frequently say that they aren’t real Starks. Something in them just isn’t sufficiently Stark-y. The people saying this always mean it in a dumb misogynistic way (note: no one ever says this about 100% PURE TULLY ROBB STARK), but the thing is they’re not totally wrong. Before we get to Sansa, or even Cat, we have to talk about Ned.

Ned Stark was never raised to be the Stark in Winterfell. His elder brother Brandon was heir, and he was raised to play a completely differently role in life. Ned Stark was raised by Jon Arryn, and the brother he grew up loving was Robert Baratheon. When he was what – 16? – he married Catelyn Tully. Ned may have had the blood of the North in his veins, but his life was in the South. Catelyn talks about becoming accustomed to Winterfell and the ways of the North in her chapters, but Ned had to do the same. Catelyn becomes a Stark, but she and Ned both have a lot in them that’s more Tully and Arryn than Stark. Family, Duty, Honor – those are the actual values both Ned and Cat live by, and those are the values most of their children absorb. This is especially true of their eldest two children, the ones who look just like their mother and almost nothing like their father: Robb and Sansa.

This is not to say that Cat, Ned, Robb and Sansa don’t have any typical Stark qualities – they do! But are the elder Stark men the platonic ideals of Stark-hood that they’re often thought of as? Certainly not. (I’d actually argue that Cat absorbs more than either of those children and maybe even more than Ned). As Cat is shaped by the Starks, the Starks - including Ned - are shaped by Cat. “Family, Duty, Honor”, is a lot closer to “As High as Honor” than “Winter is Coming” is to either, and so Cat’s learned Tully values take root in Ned more easily than the Stark values of his dead father and brother.

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A Follow Up


To that collection of quotes from earlier.

So, one of the things that made me sad while rereading the Stark sisters chapters over vacation is the way, in Book II and beyond, Arya and Sansa think about one another and interact with the memories of one another. 

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sansa — not just a pretty little talking bird

When it comes to gauging characters’ intelligence, people can be brutal— and also, in the case of Sansa, weirdly polarizing. Sansa hate has died down to some degree, but people can still be awfully quick to label her as unintelligent when I really don’t think the books support this claim at all.

One thing that I’m certain of is that Sansa isn’t vapid (imo she’s very bright and adaptive, and I’ll try to explain why), and the denigration of her as someone without intelligence does bother me a little. There’s a lot that’s wrong with it: the general demeaning of stereotypically feminine girls as flighty or stupid, the over-simplification of her character, the victim blaming that always seems to rear its ugly head when you mention one of the Stark sisters, etc.

So here’s my case for Sansa being much more intelligent and astute than many of her detractors give her credit for. Sansa’s not an empty-headed bird at all; she really is a wolf. And the fact that she can play the role of nonthreatening wallflower so well when needed is a testament to her ability to deceive— an ability that, it’s true, isn’t without its dangers.

Because it’s not that Sansa is unintelligent, an unskilled manipulator or a poor liar— the problem that many of her detractors seem to struggle with is that sometimes she can be too good at deceiving. and that’s because Sansa doesn’t just lie to her enemies; she also lies to herself.

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He can make me look at the heads, she told herself, but he can’t make me see them.

Sansa VI, A Game of Thrones

So, in retrospect this quote is really kind of chilling because this—this right here is Sansa’s psychological MO.  When confronted with things that are horrifying to her, with things she doesn’t understand, she stops seeing them for what they are, she skews details in her mind, makes them not as they are.  

This is a moment of bravery for her—to actively refuse to succumb to Joffrey’s torment of her.  But at the same time, it’s active proof of what she pushes herself to do, suppressing the bad, not letting herself confront it, not letting herself process it.

(via ashaqueenasha)

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No, It Wasn’t Normal Back Then
(yes, you do have to look at your ships critically)

There’s this very popular perception among SanSan, Sansa/Petyr, and Sansa/Tyrion shippers that is was normal, in the medieval era, for young maidens to be sexually active or romantically involved with older men. It’s also an incorrect perception, one that perpetrates an (often disrespectful to survivors of sexual abuse) attitude that erases the problematic (and potentially triggering to other members of fandom) nature of these ships.

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Also, for those who objects that “Yeah, Westeros was different from the Middle Age” let me tell you, even there 12 is not an age to get married - with older men or not.

« ”Come south with me, and I’ll teach you how to laugh again,” the king promised. “You helped me win this damnable throne, now help me hold it. We were meant to rule together. If Lyanna had lived, we should have been brothers, bound by blood as well as affection. Well, it’s not too late. I have a son. You have a daughter. My Joff and your Sansa shall join our houses, as Lyanna and I might once have done.”

This offer did surprise him. “Sansa is only eleven.”

Robert waved an impatient hand. “Old enough for betrothal. The marriage can wait a few years.”» Eddard, AGOT

See, Ned is shocked at the idea of Sansa marrying, and that’s not only because he is a good father. To wed this young was not common and very much frowned upon. And there, it’s between two people who are almost the same age (Sansa is eleven and Joffrey 12/13), not even with older men.

However it was quite common to set betrothals at this age. They were used as promesses, alliances. It wasn’t like our days, the marriage didn’t take place shortly after being engaged. Let’s have a look at the one between Catelyn Tully and Brandon Stark :

« ”[Robert] offers his own son in marriage to our daughter, what else would you call that ? Sansa might someday be queen. Her sons could rule from the Wall to the mountains of Dorne. What is so wrong with that ?”

"Gods, Catelyn, Sansa is only eleven,” Ned said. “And Joffrey… Joffrey is…”

She finished for him. “… crown prince, and heir to the Iron Throne. And I was only twelve when my father promised me to your brother Brandon." » Catelyn, AGOT

So, I looked a little at the timeline. Catelyn is born in 264AC ; the betrothal happens when she is twelve, so in 276AC. But Brandon (who by the way isn’t much older because he’s born in 261AC or 262AC, so barely 3 or 4 years older than her) comes for the wedding in 281AC. We know that because he was travelling towards the Riverlands to get married to Catelyn when he heard that Rhaegar abducted Lyanna and decided to go to King’s Landing instead, which was roughly one year before the Rebellion (282AC) - and his death.

So, in this case Catelyn must have been 17 when she was about to get married to Brandon and 18 to Ned. Her sister was two years younger than her, which means she was about 16 when she married Jon Arryn (a little young but still less than 12).

Another example : Cersei was married to Robert Baratheon at the age of 18 (284AC).

Margaery Tyrell is married to Renly Baratheon at 14/15, and to Joffrey at 16.

« [Margaery] was sixteen, brown-haired and brown-eyed, slender and beautiful. » Sansa, ASOS

Elia Martell’s betrothal to Rhaegar Targaryen came when she was 20, and likely married him shortly after.

So in short :

  • Catelyn : wed at 18
  • Lysa : wed at 16
  • Cersei : wed at 18
  • Margaery : wed at 14 and 16
  • Elia : wed at 20+

The acceptable age to get married wasn’t the same as the one to be betrothed - when there were still some rules and decency in Westeros. Everybody would have thought it was sick to wed a child. Tywin makes her wed only because he doesn’t give a fuck about her well-being. He doesn’t see her as a person, only ‘the Key to the North’, and it’s probable he would have killed her after she gave Tyrion a son.

(That’s why I’m having a hard time shipping Sansa with anyone, because her potential courtiers are so much older and frankly, not very much healthy for her… Not to say you can’t ship her, but please be aware of how young and psychologically unprepared she is.)

Also, the two youngest girls (at marriage) were married under different circumstances: Holster wanted to have Lysa married off quickly, as he considered his daughter already “stained”. The fact that she got pregnant also could have made Holster see her as more adult. I can hypothesize that Margaery was offered as wife to Renly in a haste, to be made queen and ensure the Tyrell support in a stronger way than a betrothal would have made.

848 notes   •   VIA: ofhouseadama   •   SOURCE: ofhouseadama


No, It Wasn’t Normal Back Then
(yes, you do have to look at your ships critically)

There’s this very popular perception among SanSan, Sansa/Petyr, and Sansa/Tyrion shippers that is was normal, in the medieval era, for young maidens to be sexually active or romantically involved with older men. It’s also an incorrect perception, one that perpetrates an (often disrespectful to survivors of sexual abuse) attitude that erases the problematic (and potentially triggering to other members of fandom) nature of these ships.

Read More