Tag Archives: George RR Martin

Sansa Stark Rocks. Fact.

This post contains spoilers for the end of Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords. Basically, if you haven’t read Storm of Swords Part 1 yet, you should probably back off now and come back later. I’ll save the juicy bits for you. Promise.

I am Sansa Stark.

Most women are Sansa Stark. She’s not violent, strong or powerful in the least – she’s normal and totally alone, with no dragons, swords or even a pet wolf to protect her. She’s not touched by magic to make her greater than the surrounding characters. She lacks even a family to support her, and those who claim that they’re on her side are using her to their own ends – which she sees, and she knows, but she can’t escape.

Because she’s an average girl. She’s been thrown into a complete mess of a situation at such a young age it’s amazing she’s not gone off the deep end, and she’s as quick and subtle with her mind as Arya shows all the promise of being with a blade. So, she’s not me (I am about as quick and subtle as a crowbar), but she’s the closest character to who I was at her age and I love her dearly – as annoying as she is at first, she is a child who is growing up in the most insane, grim situation and she’s becoming a fascinating character. I don’t just like her where others detest her; I actually, properly adore the child. She’s fantastic.

Just to reiterate: she is a child.

So many people hate her for making the choices of a child, choosing Joffrey over her family on the Kingsroad, but to her mind she’s choosing between her bratty little sister and the prince she’s been brought up and cultivated like a hot-house flower to adore. Society has given her a reason to put knights and royalty on a pedestal, and she’s all about the unrealistic fairytale. How is she, or any of us, supposed to know the ramifications of her actions? Having to stop and think about the consequences is part of growing up. If anyone reads the books and chooses to see her as nothing else but a bland spoiled princess, they’re missing a wonderful, dark, rich plot that is my favourite in the books for the sheer subtlety and genius of it.

Her experience at King’s Landing at the end of Game of Thrones is her first taste of real court politics. Boy, has she learned her lesson by the end of that book, so brilliantly rendered in the tv series with Sansa’s direct and unyielding gaze at her father’s head on the spike – a scene so powerful it gave me goosebumps. The stripping away of the layers and layers of hopes and dreams that made her the bratty girl she was at the beginning of the book is a harrowing experience, and people complaining that Sansa Stark is boring to read really do my head in. Seriously, she’s boring because she’s not stabbing stable boys? Her strength isn’t in any of the masculine traits. She knows that people aren’t great or good as they are in the stories, but she still lets herself hope that there’s a kernel of goodness in people, and she’s steel inside. She’s the deconstruction of the typical princess in fantasy literature, the truest rendering, the princess to Brienne’s warrior woman. She’s going through hell and she’s going to become amazing.

I mean, who never made stupid ass choices as a child? I know I did, and the learning from those mistakes makes you a better person. That’s exactly what’s happening to Sansa. She’s learning, evolving, and totally has it in for the Lannisters. She’s going to be glorious to watch as she grows up and uses what she’s learned – writing her off because she did something wrong is awful, and no one would write off a child for being silly unless they’re truly heartless. Cersei keeps saying that Sansa’s a silly girl or some variant thereof and I get the impression that many readers assume this is fact, not Cersei’s opinion. The girl isn’t stupid. She’s more of a queen than Cersei is, as she proves at the Battle of Blackwater in Clash of Kings when Cersei leaves the hall and Sansa chooses to comfort the women whose husbands and families are out fighting. I have no idea how things will develop (UGH who does with this series) but I’m willing to bet Sansa comes out on top.

Oh, and on another note, Tyrion. I truly hate the dislike for Sansa based on her dealings with Tyrion. She’s 13, alone, her father’s been killed in front of her, her younger sister is missing and presumed dead, her ideal boy is actually a complete shit who has his men beat her for saying the wrong thing, she’s belittled by his mother the queen (who also ordered her innocent pet wolf killed), she’s without a single person to advise her – and they force her, the bright-eyed optimistic girl with her head full of dreams, to marry an ugly dwarf whose family have been the architects of all her woes. She’s 13, and no one aged 13 should be confronted with this situation. Yes, I love Tyrion. Sansa doesn’t have to, because to her mind his family murdered hers, and this is as near legalized rape as you can get (and, what, she should be GRATEFUL he doesn’t force himself on her now?!). It’s horrendous. And she doesn’t get to read his point of view – she can’t just magically know that this guy isn’t an actual monster, the inversion of Joffrey. He’s a Lannister. He’s not on her side. For Sansa, it’s pretty simple.

And if you want a less rambling, more coherent perspective on all this, this video is amazing amazing AMAZING and explains the Battle of Blackwater scene SO WELL:

Just to add: I’m totally fine with people not liking characters because they don’t click with them. Jon Snow annoys the hell out of me; as Sansa is the GRRM equivalent of the princess stereotype, Jon is the GRRM equivalent of the heroic farmer’s boy. I dislike that character type intensely, though the plot is developing him in much more interesting ways so I have less dislike for him than for, say, Rand al’Thor. So many people hold him up as being fantastic where Sansa’s got all the hate. Dislike a character because they don’t click for you, that’s fine; don’t hate a character for stupid reasons though. Otherwise I get sniffy and write epic blog posts, apparently.

Sansa rocks. She will grow to rock harder. End of.

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Some more Sansa links I highly recommend:

In Defence of Sansa Stark

She longed for a prince in the cold keep and behold, Prince Joffrey shows up on her doorstep. She had to think it was meant to be. He was handsome and charming, and she was blinded by her dream world. She’s young – just 11 in the books – and the news that she would be leaving the dark north for the capital city of Westeros would be enough to dazzle any child. Add the betrothal to the prince arranged by her father and King Robert, and the situation is hopeless. Every silly, improbable fantasy of Sansa’s actually happens. Who wouldn’t allow themselves to be swept away in a similar situation?

Sansa Stark is a strong character (no, really)

If Sansa is overly concerned with fairy-tale ideals, her beauty, and her gods, it’s not because she’s a stupid little girl — it’s because that’s literally all she has left to depend on, small hope as it is. She’s clinging to her innocence because that’s the only thing she hasn’t lost.

Sansa Stark

But there are more ways than one to show strength in Westeros. This woman shows her own strength of character and incredible growth over the series without ever learning how to wield a sword. It’s time to talk about how much I love Sansa Stark.

F*ckYesSansaStark

Images from tumblr.

Douglas Hulick’s Among Thieves

Fantasy got to the stage a while ago where it’s less “Them’s the evil dodgy types, we’re the doe-eyed loveable lot” and more “Golly check out all these lovely shades of grey!” which is a bit of relief considering that fantasy is usually known for the Lord of the Rings style epic Good vs Evil chess games that totally have their place, but felt a bit stale. Along came George RR Martin with his wickedly wicked A Song of Ice and Fire series, and in his wake Scott Lynch with his fantastic Gentleman Bastard sequence as well as Joe Abercrombie with the First Law trilogy (et al) and various other authors, all of whom are doing very well painting fantasy a very fetching shade of gritty, witty grey. Seeing characters with more darkness and grime makes them seem even more engaged with their world so all the world-building the authors do becomes so much more worthwhile and believable, and leavened with the right amount of humour and thrills, the plots feel like more of a rollicking read.

And I enjoy a good rollicking read, I do. Like, for instance, Douglas Hulick’s Among Thieves, let’s say.

What we have here is a guy introduced to us while he’s torturing a guy, as you do. It’s fun, quite gory and sets a nice grim earthy tone for the rest of the book. Welcome to Drothe! He is a nice man really (persistent, intelligent and thoughtful) but he does some very mean and painful things to people. He has a social-climber sister with whom he is slightly at odds with and it’s his job to ferret things out (or Nose about, as you will) for his mob boss, Nicco. There’s an old and mystical book, which is so fantastically genre-centric and genre-savvy and yet not what you expect. It’s a nice set-up with a few little swerves and the odd satisfying twist (always nice to have twists that illustrate the world further and aren’t set up to make the reader feel like a moron). The fight scenes are nicely done with a sort of cinematic quality to them that made each one distinct and easy to visualize and in parts they’re really quite inventive, as is the magic system – there isn’t one explicitly set forth as Drothe isn’t a magic user except for being possessed of night sight, but what you see of the magic used by other characters and what we’re told about the Imperial magic is all tantalizing.

The pacing was a bit off in places, it felt too short and I wish there was more Christiana, but it’s a solid début – it’s a good, intriguing, exciting book. It’s “more of the same” along the lines of the authors listed above but it’s gone in a curious direction that ensures it stands on its own merit, although it isn’t quite up to the dizzying heights of an Abercrombie just yet.

What I loved most is that as it’s written in first  person the whole thing is about him, his experiences, the city of Ildrecca from his perspective, and he is a fun character to see it all through. It glances over enough details about history, magic and politics to give us a good sense of the city and the world and how things work but it’s all crying out for detail, or other complementary view points. Slightly spoilery: the ending seemed rushed and a bit haphazard.  It didn’t make sense given the other characters at play, but that said, I liked it, mainly because it gives rise to a really interesting situation.  It had the air of establishing characters and setting before getting to the real meat of the story.  There’s a lot of promise here; it’s a rollicking read with the potential to develop into a properly interesting and original series, so obviously I hope there’s more.