The Hound, The Mountain and the Red Priestess, Gregor and Sandor Clegane and Melisandre.
Game of Thrones Minor Characters
Although they do not belong to the ruling noble houses, and they play smaller roles, the minor characters in Game of Thrones, such as the brothers Gregor and Sandor Clegane and the Red Priestess Melisandre are as colourful as the Lannisters and the Targaryens. The Song of Ice and Fire series is so full of houses, sigils, free city foreigners that it is difficult to keep track of all the personalities and motivations. In addition viewers of the HBO series who have not read the book, are deprived of some of the background information which could not find place in the 10 TV episodes to which each book has been reduced. Below is the background on three minor characters in season 2.
The House Clegane
The House Clegane is a minor house in the Westlands that is a vassal of the Lannisters. The founder was the Lannister kennelmaster who was knighted and given some land, after he saved Tytos (father of Tywin) Lannister’s life during a lion attack. The sigil, three black dogs on a yellow background represents the dogs that died during the attack. The current head of the house is Gregor Clegane.
Gregor Clegane, the Mountain
Although steroid abuse does not seem very likely in the medieval setting of the series Gregor has all the signs of a serious user. He is enormous, almost 8 foot tall, extremely heavy and solid muscle. He is supernaturally strong, capable of beheading his stallion in one swing, and is generally referred to as “the Mountain that Rides”.
His temperament is equally worrying, he seems to enjoy extreme bloody violence. After he kills his horse in the Hand’s tournament, he is ordered by Tywin Lannister, angered that Catelyn Tully had abducted her son, to teach the Riverlands, Cat’s father’s region, a lesson. He causes havoc, riding through villages, pillaging and raping and indulging in more beheadings with his greatsword.
Sandor Clegane, the Hound
Sandor Clegane is Gregor’s younger brother, and possibly one of his first victims. When he was only 8 years old, Gregor caught his 6 years old brother playing with one of his toys. He held the boys face to the brazier and watched it melt. Sandor burns the scars of that incident, half of his face is burnt.
Sandor Celgane hates his older brother. He considers it the hight of hypocrisy that Gregor is a knight, and has always refused to take the knight’s vows, holding the order in deep contempt. Although not as big or strong as his brother, he is a formidable swordsman and is prince Joffrey’s personal bodyguard at court. Although Joffrey treats him with contemp, frequently referring to him as “Dog”, he appears not to mind, and is blindly loyal in his duty. Because of his loyalty and his helm, in the shape of a snarling dog’s head, he is commonly known as “The Hound”.
Sandor Clegane is a more complex character than his brother, he is definitely no white knight in shining armour (although after he joins the Kingsguard, technically he becomes a whitecloak), his blind duty to Joffrey the psychopath, ensures that we are going ‘aww how sweet’ every time he shows up on the screen. One of the first actions of the Hound, in season 1, is chasing and killing Arya’s friend, Mycah, “He ran, but not very fast”, he tells Eddard who sees him with the butcher’s boy’s body.
However, the Hound does not arouse the same hatred as his older brother, or King Joffrey. Some of this is down to the fact that his bitterness and hatefulness is understandable given his history. There is a brutal honesty to his world views, much of the time the hateful things he says are true, it is just that most people are not comfortable with that kind of clear vision, and prefer their truths sweetened with some delusions.
Of course the fascinating angle about Sandor Clegane’s character development is the relationship he develops with Sansa Stark. They are as opposite in character and outlook as it is possible to be. Sansa is full of naïve dreams of noble knights and handsome princes, when life dashes all her dreams and turns them into nightmares, she does not fight back or do anything clever, but suffers in silence, her survival strategy is to robotically repeat that Joffrey is the love of her love. Lets face the girl is a major sissy! You would expect the Hound to be full of contempt.
GRRM on the Cleganes
The Red Priestess, Melisandre
Melisandre is a very different minor character to the Clegane brothers. She is a foreigner, who has not been in King’s Landing as far as we know, and is one of the first characters in Game of Thrones, who has definite magical powers. Melisandre comes from Asshai, in the Song of Ice and Fire books it is revealed that she was sold as a slave when she was a young girl called Melony, to the Red Temple that served, the God of Light, R’hllor.
Melisandre can foretell the future from flames, and she believes that Stannis Baratheon is the Light Warrior, Azor Ahai, who will be instrumental in the fight between the God of Light and the Great Other, using the magical sword, Lightbringer. After reaching Dragonstone, she gained influence by converting Stannis’ wife, Selyse, and several of the knights to the new faith, and finally convinced Stannis Baratheon that she could help him win the Iron Throne, if he embraces R’hllor. She makes him burn the idols which symbolize the faith of the Seven, and pull out a burning sword from the flames, which she claims is Lightbringer.
In a demonstration of the value of her support, Melisandre spawns a shadow assassin which kills Renly, Stannis’s brother and rival to the throne. R’hallor appears to be very enthusiastic about having people burned in his name and “For the night is dark and full of horrors” appears to be the religious incantation of his followers.