Edward Ketch and Sandor Clegane - Long Lost Brothers?
Let me start by saying I've never read any of George R.R. Martin's epic series and had never even heard of the books until the HBO adaptation began to air. Like many viewers, the thing that holds me to the series are the characters. I think that's true with any good book or movie. Story lines may be forgotten in time, but readers/viewers will always remember their favorite character.
Probably the first thing that drew me to watch Game of Thrones was the presence of Sean Bean as Ned Stark. I've always loved Sean's work, as well as the running joke of how his characters seem to always die, especially in particularly...gulp...creative ways. In fact, when I created James Logan for my Jack Mallory trilogy, I imagined Sean playing Logan. But even after poor Ned Stark was gone from the series, I continued to watch, hooked like millions of other viewers.
With Stark gone, there were still several characters who interested me, particularly the scarred and surly Sandor Clegane, known also as The Hound. He reminds me in many, many ways of my character Edward Ketch. First, there is the physical aspect: both men bear facial scars (and no doubt scars throughout their bodies since they are both fighters) that elicit revulsion and fear in others. They are socially awkward and isolated. They have both protected children. In fact, some GoT viewers ship Sandor and Sansa (now that she is no longer a child), but I'll leave that to others' fan fiction. And they both exhibit an unhealthy dose of self-loathing.
It is Sandor's relationship with Sansa that gave us a tender moment in the most recent episode. While everyone around Sandor is celebrating a military victory, he manages to look isolated, even with so many around him, even when someone approaches him to try to interact with him. One of those people is a young woman soliciting sex. Sandor rejects her, immediately reminding me of this passage about Ketch in The Fortune:
Usually the strumpets who worked the tavern knew from past unpleasant experiences to stay away from him. Near the bar they chattered among themselves, their laughter reaching Ketch through the greater noise of patrons and a fiddler. He knew he was a curiosity among the Charles Town whores, someone to challenge their skills at seducing a man who always, without fail, refused their attention.
Then, Sansa sits across from Sandor, bemused as to why he barked at the whore and sent her away. During their brief dialogue, Sansa reaches out to touch his hand in a gesture that conveyed far more than words and reminded me of an equally poignant moment between Ketch and Helen in The Fortune:
Helen drifted over to the bed, her bear now held in the crook of one arm. Maria felt an instinctive urge to pull the child away from him, but instead she watched, mesmerized, as the girl took Ketch’s hand. Before being kidnapped, Helen had shrunk away from Ketch during the one instance Maria had witnessed them interact; she easily recalled Ketch’s humiliation over the child’s reluctance. Now Helen’s touch reflected none of her former aversion, and Ketch’s anger and even the horrible discomfort momentarily left him. He wore a profound look of wonder and gratitude that stilled Maria’s breath and made her suspect that no other human being had ever before touched him with such tenderness. His hand slowly closed around Helen’s fingers, and he nearly smiled, his eyes moist.
Then there is Sandor's nickname, The Hound. More than once in my trilogy, Ketch is referred to as a dog, first by Logan in The Alliance ("Ketch is a well-trained dog..."), by Defoe in The Fortune ("I heard there was a dog down here that might need shooting."), and even by his own half-brother ("And you, actin' like her trained dog or somethin'."). Ketch himself once referred to himself as a "mongrel," displaying that self-loathing I mentioned earlier.
I think viewers/readers are drawn to characters like Sandor or Ketch because we see what other characters in the stories don't see--their vulnerability, their unacknowledged desire for love and acceptance, and their belief that they don't deserve those things because of the horrible things they've done in their lives. These types of characters have the most powerful story arc because they have so far to go compared to many hero types.
Let's hope Sandor Clegane and Edward Ketch get their happily-ever-after.