This is a post about Sansas that contains material including and exceeding Season 4 of Game of Thrones and Book 3 of the ASOIAF series.
Everyone wants something, Alayne. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.
`Petyr Baelish, A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68
First, Some Bookkeeping
The starting year of A Game of Thrones is 298 A.C., 298 years after Aegon’s Conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. A Clash of Kings and most of A Storm of Swords occur in the year 299 A.C. King Joffrey Baratheon, First of His Name, wed on the first day of the 300th year since Aegon’s landing, so that part of A Storm of Swords, and the subsequent two novels A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons occurred in the year 300 A.C.
In the chronology of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, here are some of the ages of those characters at the time of the latter part of the third book, roughly where the tv show is now:
17: Meera Reed, Robb Stark (RIP), Jon Snow
16: Daenerys Targaryen
14: Sansa Stark, Joffrey Baratheon (RIP), Jojen Reed
11: Arya Stark
10: Myrcella Baratheon
9: Bran Stark, Tommen Baratheon
8: Robert Arryn
5: Rickon Stark
One of the smartest things that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss did when they started adapting A Song of Ice and Fire to television was move the time of the story ahead, just a few years, so that Show-characters are older than their Book-counterparts. This wasn’t done completely consistently, and I don’t completely believe there have been three years of time elapsed in Game of Thrones from Season 1 to Season 4. But if there have, then the approximate ages of the previously-mentioned characters as of Season 4 of the show are:
20: Robb Stark (RIP), Jon Snow
19: Daenerys Targaryen, Joffrey Baratheon (RIP)
18-19: Meera Reed
15-16: Jojen Reed
16: Sansa Stark
15: Myrcella Baratheon
14: Arya Stark
13: Bran Stark, Tommen Baratheon
11: Robin Arryn
9: Rickon Stark
All of these changes make a lot of sense given all the things that are true or merely common sense about child actors. But they also provide the possibility of some changes.
Robin Arryn, as portrayed by Lino Facioli. Image from the Game of Thrones wiki.
The boy is weak and sickly.
`Stannis Baratheon, A Clash of Kings, Prologue
Robin Arryn is not Robert Arryn
This write-up at Winter is Coming reminded me of something I had forgotten about the Lord of the Eyrie. In Chapter 80 of A Storm of Swords, Sansa builds a snow-recreation of Winterfell, gets awkwardly kissed by Petyr, Robin shows up with a doll and breaks the castle, Sansa snaps at him, Robin has a shaking spell. In “Mockingbird”, Sansa builds a snow-recreation of Winterfell, Robin shows up and breaks the castle, Sansa slaps him, Robin runs away, Petyr awkwardly kisses her.
In spite of some plot juggling, it’s almost the same scene, except that in one there Is a sickly child.
This sickly child is one resigned to staying inside the Eyrie, who views Sansa as a surrogate mother more than anything else. He is not long for this world, and George R.R. Martin has given us plenty of hints that further calamity will befall him in The Winds of Winter.
Robin Arryn, on the other hand, is apparently healthy enough that Petyr is willing to take him on a tour of the Vale. Obviously Petyr will use the tour to gain influence for himself as the acting Lord Protector of the Vale, but Robin will also be learning and making a (possibly) good name for himself after the relatively recent reclusiveness of House Arryn.
Sansa Stark, courtesy of Akizhao
With my wits and Cat’s beauty, the world will be yours, sweetling.
`Petyr Baelish, A Feast for Crows, Chapter 10
Book!Sansa is being played by Littlefinger
In A Feast for Crows, Sansa’s main arc can be summarized as follows: under a fake name and in fairly dowdy clothes, she is slowly taught the ways of diplomacy through Petyr, who plans on having her marry the guy who is next in line after Robert Arryn. Sometime after Robert Arryn dies, she can reveal her true nature, which entitles her (as the only living child of Eddard Stark) to give the rights to Winterfell to whomever she marries.
This plan only works if two things happen. Firstly, the Boltons have to fall from favor or be eliminated. I don’t know if Petyr is working towards that, maybe he is. Secondly, Eddard Stark was declared a traitor to Westeros, and Sansa Stark was declared partially responsible for killing a king. Those are bad things that everyone would have to move on from. I don’t know how Petyr is planning on cleaning up the name of House Stark, maybe he is.
Given the state of affairs in the book series so far, in A Feast for Crows Sansa is being taught to be more crafty than she was in the previous three books. But her plan is one of reaction, and in the words of Petyr Baelish, she is more a “piece” than a “player”.
Sansa Stark, portraying “Alayne Stone”, as portrayed by Sophie Turner. Image courtesy of j’adore film
And you think you know me?
I know what you want.
`Petyr Baelish, Sansa Stark, “The Mountain and the Viper”
Show!Sansa is playing Littlefinger
In A Storm of Swords, two people watch Petyr push Lysa out the moon door: the bard Marillion and Sansa. Shortly thereafter, Eyrie guards show up, Petyr blames the bard for the murder, and (with a little bit of vetting) Sansa compliantly agrees, because Marillion is a worse person than Petyr.
In “Mockingbird”, only Petyr and Sansa know what happened to Lysa. We in the audience don’t know exactly how much time occurs between “Mockingbird” and “The Mountain and the Viper”, and we have no idea if Petyr has vetted Sansa’s testimony. From the look of things in “The Mountain and the Viper”, it looks like no, and Sansa could very easily tell the real truth and potentially condemn Petyr to death.
So she doesn’t, and Petyr Baelish owes his continued existence to Sansa Stark.
This changes the Petyr-Sansa dynamic dramatically from one in which Sansa has little power to one wherein she and Petyr are on seemingly-equal footing.
Sue Lyon as Dolores Haze in Lolita. Image courtesy of the Opening Ceremony blog(?)
First time I saw you, you were just a child. A girl from the North come to the Capitol for the first time. Not a child any longer.
`Petyr Baelish, “The Mountain and the Viper”
Lolita and Littlefinger
There’s something not good about the Book!Petyr-Sansa relationship. We all know that this 34 year old guy is in some form of attraction towards a 14 year old girl. This concerns us because the Dothraki apparently have no problems with marrying 14 year old girls, and this might mean bad things for Sansa.
The Show!Petyr-Sansa relationship has, as of this week, taken a slightly different turn that might actually lead to darker places. Book!Sansa is seemingly barely aware that Petyr is in some manner attracted to her. He is doing a much better job of hiding it than Show!Petyr is.
Show!Sansa seems to be trying to take advantage of Show!Petyr’s worse ability to hide his attraction. And it seems to be working…
Petyr Baelish, as portrayed by Aidan Gillen, watching Sansa walk down the stairs...
I don’t know exactly how the showrunners want to take this; I don’t know for sure if they want the audience to think a 16 year old girl is using a 36 year old man’s attraction to her to get power. But it seems like it, and in the world of Westeros I don’t know if this will lead to bad or worse places for Show!Sansa.