[Red Pen Reads] A Game of Thrones – Sansa and Daenerys

Sansa and I finally have something in common — when things are horrible, we hide under the blanket in our beds. For some time after Ned’s execution (at least several days), she spent all of her sleeping and waking moments there, when she slept, she dreamt about Ned’s death, then her own. And then Joffrey arrived to make her real life even worse than the nightmares.

Joffrey, who apparently needs an entourage of the Hound and two Kingsguard knights to visit a grief-stricken girl, orders her out of bed and then orders the Hound to forcibly get her up. Sansa begs to just be allowed to go home, but Joffrey, who wouldn’t listen to his mother when it came to the politics of Ned’s death, is apparently listening to his mother when it comes to the politics of his marriage, so Sansa’s still stuck being betrothed to him. He says it’s his mother’s idea, but I really don’t believe it, I think Joffrey just doesn’t want to go through the trouble of finding himself a new victim to terrorize. At this point, Sansa is very much over her “prince charming” fantasies. When she tells Joffrey she hates him, he has Ser Gelding beat her. It takes hard work to be the biggest asshole of all the assholes in this book, but Joffrey manages it with panache.

He and his two bodyguards swagger off, the Hound hangs back to advise Sansa to give Joffrey what he wants — fear and obedience — to spare herself the pain. She calls the servants and gets to work putting on the pretty, perfect Sansa mask that will be her shield from now on. She’s smart enough not to trust Lannister servants and is generally more aware than she’s ever been before.

Ser Gelding escorts her to the throne room so she can watch Joffrey play at being king. It goes about as well as one would imagine, with lots of people being killed and maimed for his pleasure. After he’s done “working” for the day, he tells Sansa to follow him and finds this to be a convenient time (they’re accompanied by Ser Gelding and the Hound, it should be noted) to man-speak to her about her period and their potential future kids. It’s gross and only marginally better than their destination: Ned’s head on a spike up on the ramparts. Sansa panics and resists on the way, but once they get there, she does a magnificent job of shutting down, looking without seeing as she puts it, and leaving Joffrey disappointed by her lack of abject terror. He tries to prod her into it by showing her Septa Mordane’s rotted head then telling her that he’ll make her a present of Robb’s head. He gets a reaction, but it’s not one he was hoping for. Instead, Sansa gets a little flash of Arya in her and tells Joffrey that she’ll appreciate a gift of his head from Robb instead. Gelding hits her twice for that one. For a moment, Sansa considers ending it all by pushing Joffrey off the wall. How satisfying would that be? The Hound gets in the way when he kneels in front of her to dab the blood off her face. His obsession with Sansa has been ramping up throughout the chapter, but with him, the more decent he acts, the creepier he comes off. It ends Sansa’s moment of spirit and returns her to her more natural defences of self-control and subjugation.

I was too young to see it when I first read this book, but from this point on to the end of her time with Joffrey, Sansa is basically a battered wife, isn’t she? And while it may seem meek in comparison to Arya’s swashbuckling adventures, Sansa is in survival mode, she just needs a very different set of skills to survive in a castle under her enemies’ thumbs than Arya does out in the wide world. I have a much clearer appreciation for that now.

From one beautiful girl-child at the centre of creepy old men’s obsessions to the other: that is to say, back to Dany.

Dany is having a Dream. I’ll be honest, I’m getting a little tired of everyone having Dreams. I get it, these people dream, they dream symbolically, prophetically, presciently, and lucidly. They dream high on opium, low in the throes of depression, while injured, and before battles. They dream of spirit animals, dead parents, dead children, dead spouses, and future spouses. When this series ends in book the umpteenth, its last words will be “and then he woke up and realized it was all a dream.”

Dany’s dream is long and filled with stuff and people (Drogo, Viserys, Jorah, the man her son would’ve been), but mostly with dragons. Like Bran, she dreams of flying. She wakes up, dizzy and disoriented, and is not awake for long before Jorah has her drink something MMD gives her and fall back asleep. She wakes up a second time, long enough to drink and ask for her dragon eggs to hold, then go back to sleep.

The third time she wakes up for good. She finally remembers to ask about Drogo (alive with an obvious caveat that her slavegirls are too scared to reveal) and her son (not alive at all). She realizes she didn’t ask for him the first two times because she already knew that he didn’t survive. Her dream told her so. When Jorah and MMD arrive, she has Jorah grope her dragon eggs. They feel hot to the touch to her, but cool to him. That’s because Jorah doesn’t have special dragon blood, obviously. She asks about her baby’s death and MMD is only too pleased to tell her all sorts of horrible things, about how it was a stillborn monster not a child. Jorah blames himself for carrying her into the tent of horrors. Dany points out that MMD didn’t tell her that her baby would be the sacrifice for Drogo’s life, instead she made it sound like it would be the horse. MMD says Dany deluded herself, but I just read that chapter, so I’m going to call bullshit on that one. Should’ve left Qotho kill the bitch, Dany.

On her way to see Drogo, Dany notes that only a hundred or so people are left. Drogo’s khalasar broke up into a dozen or so new ones, his captains (the kos) and other strong men declaring themselves khals. Out of spite, two of these raped and killed a girl that Dany saved back in the same place she saved MMD. Dany vows vengeance, not, I think, because she cared that much about the girl, but because she doesn’t like to be crossed.

Drogo is now a living organism rather than a person. His body functions mechanically, he’ll walk if he’s led and eat what’s put in his mouth. Hey, probably some girls would find him a perfect husband. Dany likes her men a little more spirited. She’s pretty angry with the unrepentant MMD, who considers herself, her temple, and her people rightly avenged (and Dany’s baby justly killed in advance of his potential future conquering ways).

Now, I do feel for Dany’s pain, but this was all rather necessary from a story-telling point of view. If things went happily here, she’d be one big man’s wife and another’s mother, not hardened protagonist of her own story.

She first tries to rouse Drogo to real life with sex, alas, with no success. She recites MMD’s probably mocking prediction of when he will come back (sun rising in the west and setting in the east and other such end-of-the-world events) as a goodbye, kisses him one last time, and smothers her first love with a pillow. She is now alone — not literally, and not without support, of course, but alone as a leader and alone in making sure her hopes and dreams for the future come true.

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