Godswood of the Red Keep

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Eddard Stark and Cersei Lannister, by Marc Simonetti © Fantasy Flight Games

The godswood of the Red Keep is an acre of forest within the Red Keep at King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms.[1]

Layout

Overlooking the Blackwater Rush,[1] the little[2] godswood is found within thick walls.[3] Its trees include elm, alder, and black cottonwood.[1] Instead of being a weirwood, its heart tree is a large brown oak tree without a carved face.[3] Its old limbs are covered with smokeberry vines, and dragon's breath grows nearby.[1]

Since the Faith of the Seven is predominant in southern Westeros instead of worship of the old gods, the Red Keep's godswood is usually empty.[3]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Eddard Stark and Cersei Lannister, by Winona Nelson © Fantasy Flight Games

After received word that his crippled son Bran has awakened from his coma at Winterfell, Lord Eddard Stark, the new Hand of the King, brings his daughters, Sansa and Arya, to the godswood of the Red Keep to pray before its heart tree. The girls fall asleep, but Eddard holds a vigil through the night.[1]

Lord Stark discovers that the children of King Robert I Baratheon were actually fathered by Ser Jaime Lannister, the twin of Queen Cersei Lannister, so he summons Cersei to the godswood for a private meeting. Ned advises the queen to flee the capital before Robert returns from his hunt in the kingswood, but Cersei refuses.[3] Robert ends up mortally wounded by a boar, and Cersei has Eddard arrested after her son Joffrey assumes the Iron Throne.[4]

Although she is forbidden to leave the Red Keep, Sansa is given freedom of the castle by her Lannister captors. She prays for her imprisoned father in the royal sept and sometimes in the godswood as well.[5] Joffrey has Eddard executed at the Great Sept of Baelor.[6]

A Clash of Kings

Sansa receives an unsigned letter telling her, "Come to the godswood tonight, if you want to go home". When the nervous girl arrives, she is surprised to find Ser Dontos Hollard, whom King Joffrey has made a fool. At the heart tree, Dontos pledges himself to Sansa and vows to the old gods that he will send her home.[7]  When Sandor Clegane catches Sansa outside in the middle of the night, he disbelieves her claim that she was praying in the godswood for Joffrey. Sandor does not interfere when Sansa tells the same lie to Ser Boros Blount, however.[7]

Sansa goes to the godswood each day so that she can secretly meet Dontos. On one occasion, Dontos tells Sansa that a friend of his is going to hire a ship to take them to safety.[8] When Tyrion Lannister asks about her frequent visits, Sansa says she is praying for an end to the War of the Five Kings.[9] Cersei thinks that Sansa is praying for Joffrey's defeat, however, which she considers treason.[10]

After the Battle of the Blackwater, Dontos tells Sansa that they will escape King's Landing on the night of Joffrey's wedding to Margaery Tyrell, and the fool gives Sansa a silver hair net with black amethysts from Asshai.[11]

A Storm of Swords

Sansa happily tells Dontos of Olenna Tyrell's plan to wed her to Willas Tyrell, but the disgraced knight begs her to stick to their escape plan.[12] Instead of Willas, Lord Tywin Lannister arranges for Sansa to marry his son, Tyrion.[13] Sansa continues to visit the godswood each night, with Tyrion thinking his reluctant wife is merely pious.[14][15]

Sansa hides clothing in the godswood the night before Joffrey's wedding. When the boy king begins choking to death during his wedding feast, Sansa flees the throne room for the forest. A drunken Dontos emerges from the darkness and reveals that the amethysts in Sansa's hair net contained poison. Sansa and Dontos escape the Red Keep, and Oswell rows them to Merling King in Blackwater Bay. Sansa learns that Lord Petyr Baelish has been her her secret benefactor all along, and Littlefinger then has Lothor Brune's men kill Dontos.[16] Petyr takes Sansa to the Vale of Arryn,[17] and Tyrion is put on trial for Joffrey's murder.[18]

A Feast for Crows

Brella tells Brienne Tarth, who has been tasked by Jaime with finding and protecting Sansa, that the girl went to the godswood almost every night.[19]

Quotes

It was peaceful here. The thick walls shut out the clamor of the castle, and he could hear birds singing, the murmur of crickets, leaves rustling in a gentle wind. The heart tree was an oak, brown and faceless, yet Ned Stark still felt the presence of his gods.[3]

—thoughts of Eddard Stark

Cersei: Why here?
Eddard: So the gods can see.[3]

There was something wild about a godswood; even here, in the heart of the castle at the heart of the city, you could feel the old gods watching with a thousand unseen eyes.[7]

—thoughts of Sansa Stark

Sansa: The note ... it was you?
Petyr: It had to be the godswood. No other place in the Red Keep is safe from the eunuch's little birds ... or little rats, as I call them. There are trees in the godswood instead of walls. Sky above instead of ceiling. Roots and dirt and rock in place of floor. The rats have no place to scurry. Rats need to hide, lest men skewer them with swords.[16]

References