Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin says the Sansa-Littlefinger plot will be “very different” in his books. “My Littlefinger would have never turned Sansa over to Ramsay.”
Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and for the first three-four seasons, it adapted them pretty faithfully. The fifth season is where it really started to branch out on its own, beginning with a big plot change for Sansa and Littlefinger.
In the books, Sansa Stark is still in the Vale, with Littlefinger grooming her to one day take over the North via a complex marriage scheme involving a guy named Harrold Hardyng, who doesn’t appear on the show at all. Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Sansa’s childhood friend Jeyne Poole is married to the vile Ramsay Bolton (formerly Ramsay Snow), with Ramsay’s father Roose passing her off as Arya Stark. She endures horrible torment and eventually escapes with the help of Theon Greyjoy, who is struggling to break free of his Reek persona.
Jeyne Poole does appear very briefly on Game of Thrones, but she’s not a big character. On the show, Sansa took Jeyne’s place, which meant that Littlefinger had to hand her over to the Boltons, breaking with Cersei and the Iron Throne and forming his own alliance with Roose. Sansa was tortured by her new husband, which received a lot of blowback from fans.
Speaking to James Hibberd for the new Game of Thrones oral history book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, Martin talked about the change. “Not having Jeyne, they used Sansa for that,” he said. “Is that better or worse? You can make your decision there. Oddly, I never got pushback for that in the book because nobody cared about Jeyne Poole that much. They care about Sansa.”
My Littlefinger would have never turned Sansa over to Ramsay. Never. He’s obsessed with her. Half the time he thinks she’s the daughter he never had — that he wishes he had, if he’d married Catelyn. And half the time he thinks she is Catelyn, and he wants her for himself…He’s not going to give her to somebody who would do bad things to her. That’s going to be very different in the books.
On the show, Littlefinger was unaware of Ramsay’s terrible reputation, or at least that’s what he claimed. “Ramsay’s not known everywhere as a psycho,” said writer Bryan Cogman in the book. “Littlefinger doesn’t have that intelligence on him. He just knows the Boltons are scary and creepy and not to be fully trusted.”
Whether it was realistic for Littlefinger not to know about Ramsay’s brutal reputation was a point of contention among fans at the time. Personally, I bought it. At the time, Ramsay was a bastard, someone below Littlefinger’s notice, and far away in the North. Marrying Sansa off to Ramsay didn’t turn out well for Littlefinger, but I didn’t have trouble believing it was a risk he might take; Littlefinger was always about betting big and winning big. But not every bet pays off.
It’s interesting to hear that Martin sees Littlefinger as far more possessive of Sansa than he was on the show. When and if we get The Winds of Winter, we’ll see his version of events play out in detail. My guess is that Sansa will end up in more or less the same position she does on the show, as an important figure in Winterfell, but obviously she’ll get there by different means.
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