A Clash of Kings-Chapter 32
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Sansa is called before Joffrey to pay for her brother Robb Stark’s latest victory. Sansa is being beaten by Boros Blount when Tyrion Lannister arrives. He stops the beating and has her taken to the Tower of the Hand to be cleaned up and treated. The next morning he offers her protection, but she refuses.
Sandor Clegane is telling Sansa that if she keeps Joffrey waiting it will only be worse. As Sansa is making herself pretty for Joffrey, she wonders if Joffrey has heard about her meetings with Ser Dontos. As they are walking, Sansa asks the Hound what she has done and is told that it is what her kingly brother Robb Stark has done. Sansa tells the Hound that Robb is the traitor and she had no part; she can only think that if Robb harmed Jaime Lannister she will have to face Ser Ilyn Payne. The Hound tells her again that they trained her well, calling her a little bird.
She is led to the lower bailey where a crowd is gathered. She can hear Lord Gyles Rosby coughing as they part to let her pass. Ser Horas Redwyne and Hobber Redwyne avoid her gaze as she passes. There is a cat shot by a bolt mewling on the ground. Ser Dontos, riding a broomstick as commanded by the king, whispers to her to “Be brave.” In the center stands Joffrey with Ser Boros Blount and Ser Meryn Trant beside him. She kneels before him, but Joffrey snaps that kneeling will not save her and she must answer for her brother’s treasons. She is slow to get up, and the Hound, not ungently, pulls her up when commanded.
Ser Lancel Lannister now speaks to her, claiming that Robb fell upon Ser Stafford Lannister with an army of wargs near Lannisport, using some sorcery. Thousands of men were butchered as they slept. According to Lancel, the northmen feasted on their flesh after the slaughter.
Joffrey asks if she has anything to say. Ser Dontos tells him that she is shocked witless. Joffrey then brings up that her direwolf savaged him, and Sansa retorts that it was Arya's wolf (Nymeria), and that he killed Lady even though she never hurt him. Joffrey replies that it was Eddard Stark that killed Lady, and he killed him. Joffrey then recounts how he shot a man in the throat at the gates that was bigger than her father. He would shoot her also but Cersei says they will kill Jaime. He then commands the Hound to hit Sansa, but Ser Dontos intervenes by wacking her over the head with his morning star—a melon on the end of a stick. People are laughing, but, despite Sansa’s prayers, Joffrey does not. Instead he calls to his Kingsguard, telling them to save her face. Ser Meryn Trant flings Dontos down while Ser Boros first slams a fist into Sansa’s belly, and then starts to lay the flat of his blade across her thighs. The Hound rasps “Enough,” but the king orders Boros to make her naked and he tears the silk of her bodice away exposing her breasts. She can hear sniggers as Joffrey orders her beat bloody.
At that point, a voice demands "What is the meaning of this?". Sansa looks to see the arrival of a furious Tyrion Lannister, flanked by his sellsword and one of his tribesmen who demands Blount tell him what sort of knight beats helpless maids. Ser Boros replies one that serves his king, drawing his sword, with Ser Meryn stepping beside him. Bronn warns them to be careful, as they don’t want to get blood all over their white cloaks. Tryion asks for someone to give Sansa something to cover herself with, and Sandor tosses her his cloak. Tyrion then asks Joffrey whether he has no regard for her honor, considering that she is to be his queen one day. Joffrey replies that he is punishing her for having the blood of the wolf, and Tyrion replies that Joffrey has the wits of a goose. Joffrey insists that the king can do as he likes, and Tyrion asks if he knows what happened to Aerys II Targaryen, who also did what he liked. Ser Boros warns Tyrion that no one is to threaten the king, but Tyrion responds he is only educating him, and then tells Bronn and Timett to kill Ser Boros if he opens his mouth again.
When Ser Boros, turning red, states the queen will hear of this, Tyrion asks if they should send for Cersei. When Joffrey has nothing to say, Tyrion tells him to learn to use his ears more and his mouth less, lest his reign be shorter than Tyrion himself. He points out that brutality will not win his people’s love, nor his queen’s. Joffrey replies that Cersei taught him to value fear over love, and Sansa fears him. Tyrion only notes that it is a pity Stannis and Renly are not twelve year-old girls as well.
Tyrion then continues by ordering Bronn and Timett to bring Sansa. They take her to the Tower of the Hand. She is shaking and moving as if she were in a dream. Serving girls clean her up and Maester Frenken treats her wounds. Sansa thinks how the Hound hated knights, and now she hates them also, and she does not believe they are true knights. She sleeps.
She wakes that night and her legs pain her when she gets up. Outside her door, she finds a woman whom she tells she wants to go to the godswood; she wants to find Ser Dontos and beg him to take her home before it is too late. The woman tells her that Tyrion said she was not to leave. When food comes in the morning she tells the servant to take it away. Later, Tyrion arrives and tells her that she is a guest, not a prisoner.
Tyrion then tells the story of Robb’s victory. Ser Stafford’s host was encamped outside Oxcross. He explains that there were no army of wargs or sorcery involved as Ser Lancel claimed, as Lancel wouldn’t know a warg from a wart and according to Tyrion, "sorcery is the sauce men spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence". Robb’s soldiers crept into the camp and cut the horse lines, and then Robb sent his direwolf among them, causing a stampede. The panicked horses trampled the camp, killing many. Most of the rest fled in terror, casting aside their weapons. Among the dead are Ser Stafford (killed by Lord Rickard Karstark), Ser Rupert Brax, Ser Lymond Vikary, Lord Crakehall, and Lord Antario Jast. Fifty have been taken prisoner including Jast’s sons and Martyn Lannister. The incompetent Ser Stafford had not even bothered to post sentries, thinking himself safe and secure in the Westerlands and most of his army were raw recruits, the sweepings of Lannisport. The only mystery is how Robb reached Oxcross since Lannister forces hold the Golden Tooth and the men stationed there swear Robb didn't pass them. Tyrion ultimately declares it unimportant; Robb Stark is his father's problem, while Joffrey is his.
Tyrion then asks Sansa how she feels about his nephew and she responds that she loves him with all her heart, more than ever. Tyrion is amused and tells her someone taught her to lie well, which she may be grateful for one day. He then asks if she has flowered, to which she answers no. He says that is good, and that he does not intend for her to marry Joffrey, since there will never be a reconciliation between the Lannisters and Starks with the way Joffrey has acted, calling it a pity as the marriage was one of Robert I Baratheon’s better notions. Sansa is concerned that this is a trick and states she only wants to be loyal. Tyrion adds "...and far from any Lannisters", but admits he cannot blame her, as when he was her age, he wanted the same thing.
He then notes that she visits the godswood every day and asks what she prays for. Sansa prays for Robb’s victory and Joffrey’s death, but claims she prays for an end to the fighting. Tyrion tells her there will be another battle between Robb and Tywin Lannister and that will settle the issue, warning her not to think that Oxcross was significant, and to pray that her brother bends his knee, and he will return her to Winterfell once there is peace. He offers to have some of his clansmen guard her, maybe Chella if she prefers a woman. Sansa, thinking about Ser Dontos rescuing her, tells him that the wildlings frighten her. He responds that they also frighten Joffrey and the lickspittles and sycophants who make up his Kingsguard so no one would harm her. When she tells him she would prefer sleeping in her own bed and the tower is where her father’s men were slain, and their ghosts give her bad dreams, he agrees to have her escorted back to her bedchamber.
References and Notes
- Summary and analyses of the chapter in the course of a 10th reread.
- Review and summary by Leigh Butler.