Lady Sansa Stark is the second child and elder daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. She serves as a POV character for twenty-four chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows. She is confirmed to narrate at least one chapter of the upcoming sixth novel, The Winds of Winter.
Sansa is introduced as a sweet, shallow eleven-year-old girl who is very beautiful and ladylike. She inherited her mother’s thick auburn hair, blue eyes, and very fair complexion. Proficient in music, singing, dancing, and other feminine pursuits, she was betrothed to the Crown Prince Joffrey Baratheon when her father became Hand of the King. Her direwolf (one of the six found in the first chapter of A Game of Thrones) is named Lady, who takes after Sansa in her polite disposition. In her first POV chapter, she describes her love for her betrothed and her distaste for her younger sister Arya, who has a reputation for being wild and a tomboy. When Joffrey takes her on a walk by the Trident on their way to King’s Landing, he hurts one of Arya’s friends, a commoner named Mycah, and attempts to attack Arya before her direwolf, Nymeria, intervenes. When she is questioned by King Robert about the situation, Sansa lies and pretends she couldn’t remember what happened, to Arya’s disgust. Since Arya had sent Nymeria away after the attack, Queen Cersei proposes Sansa’s wolf be killed instead. Ned kills Lady quickly to avoid a scene.
After they arrive in King’s Landing, Sansa begins to dress and act like a southern lady, to the displeasure of her governess Septa Mordane. She argues frequently with Arya, whom she blames for Lady’s death, and also strains her relationship with her father. She attends the jousts to celebrate Ned’s new position and there develops an affection for Loras Tyrell, the Knight of the Flowers, who handed her the only red rose he had before he entered the lists. Later on Joffrey reassures her of his love for her and promises never to treat her badly again. (He had ignored her after Lady was killed.) When Ned’s investigation of the death of John Arryn leads to the revelation that the King’s offspring are actually the products of Jaime and Cersei’s incest, he decides to send his daughters back to Winterfell. Devastated with the prospect of leaving King’s Landing and Joffrey, Sansa (against her father’s command to keep their departure a secret) unwittingly reveals to Joffrey and Cersei Ned’s plan sparking the Lannisters to consolidate their power against Ned. After the king’s death and her father’s arrest, Sansa is completely stunned and asks to see her father in his cell, and is rebuked by Cersei and Grand Maester Pycelle. She appeals to the newly crowned King Joffrey for mercy on her father, to send him into exile in Winterfell or make him join the Night’s Watch. Joffrey promises her mercy—though at Ned’s public confession at the Sept of Baelor, he is beheaded on Joffrey’s orders. Sansa is inconsolable afterward (Arya had escaped the castle after Ned was arrested.) and refuses to see anyone, though she is forced to continue on with the advice of Sandor Clegane, Joffrey’s head bodyguard who shows Sansa the occasional kindness despite his reputation as a heartless killer. When she is taken to see her father’s head mounted on a spike, she tells Joffrey that maybe her brother Robb (who is still in Winterfell and declared the north a separate kingdom) will give her Joffrey’s head, Joffrey begins using his Kingsguard to beat and humiliate her.
In her new life at King’s Landing, Sansa learns to fake her love for Joffrey (who since her father’s execution she has completely despised) and continues to be the perfect picture of feminine grace. At a tournament on Joffrey’s name day, she earns the loyalty of Ser Dontos Hollard, a knight stripped of his title by Joffrey when he came to fight in a tourney while drunk. She finds an unexpected defender in Tyrion Lannister, the king’s uncle, who after his return from the east offered her his condolences. On one occasion when Joffrey had Sansa beaten and stripped before the entire court, Tyrion assisted her by offering to have her live in the Tower of the Hand for a short while—Sansa declines since she cannot bear to remember when her father had lived there. She begins “flowering” just before the Battle of Blackwater, and though she attempts to burn her mattress to hide it, one of her maids sees and tells Cersei. Cersei tells Sansa that since she is now a woman she should learn to love only her children, as she will become weaker with the more people she cares for. Sansa is forced to kiss Joffrey’s new sword, Hearteater, before she takes over the queen’s role as a comforter to the other noblewomen when they are taking shelter during the battle (as opposed to Cersei, who merely gets drunk and publicly expresses her contempt for the situation). In the midst of the battle, Sansa goes up to her room and finds Sandor Clegane (the Hound) there waiting for her. Although he offers to take her away with him to Winterfell, she refuses, having already made a getaway plan with Ser Dontos. After the battle (which the Lannisters won with help from House Tyrell’s army, who joined the Lannister cause after Renly was killed) Sansa’s betrothal to Joffrey is set aside in favor of Margaery Tyrell, Loras’s sister. Sansa pretends to be upset about it while she is secretly overjoyed.
Sansa, now a teenager, quickly learns that she is still not out of the court’s attention when Margaery and the other women in the Tyrell family invite her to tea, shortly after they arrive at court. Sansa takes a liking to Margaery and becomes friends with her in a sisterly way. It is the Tyrells’ intention to let Sansa take a journey to the Highgarden, the seat of their House, when in fact they plan to marry her to the eldest Tyrell son, Willas. Sansa is informed of their intentions by Margaery’s grandmother, Olenna, and is pleased with the idea of leaving King’s Landing; however, she tells Dontos about the plan, who in turn tells Lord Petyr Baelish, who informs Lord Tywin Lannister and Cersei. Tywin immediately plans to marry Sansa to his youngest son, Tyrion Lannister. Cersei has Sansa fitted for a new gown, which is later revealed to be her wedding dress, and when it is finally finished, Cersei informs Sansa that she will marry Tyrion in a matter of minutes. Horrified, Sansa initially tries to run, but composes herself in time to arrive at the sept. In a private moment with Tyrion, he tells her she is free to marry someone else in his family, but Sansa promises to do her duty (and thinks that she doesn’t want to marry any Lannister), and in tears recites her vows and kisses Tyrion at the wedding ceremony. Later that night, when they are finally alone, Tyrion promises not to consummate their marriage until she wants to, though to his annoyance, she suggests she may never want to.
Married life proves unsettling for Sansa—she quickly learns of her new husband’s habits and every now and then tries to make polite conversation with him, but nothing more. She is secretly disgusted by his appearance, and it is no secret within the court that their marriage is not consummated. Tyrion brings her the news that her mother and brother Robb were killed by House Frey, and she grieves in private (Arya and her other brothers, Bran and Rickon, were also thought to be dead at the time). On their way to Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, Tyrion asks her about her family, and the two have their first real personal conversation together. At the wedding Joffrey is fatally poisoned, and Cersei orders both Tyrion and Sansa to be arrested, as she believes it was their doing. (It is later revealed to be Olenna Tyrell who poisoned him, under the influence of Petyr Baelish, who had had this plan for some time, and both Tyrion and Sansa were innocent.) While Tyrion is arrested, Sansa manages to escape the castle and is smuggled out of the city by Lord Baelish, who murders ser Dontos, and is revealed to be behind her rescue plot as well. He takes her to his homeland, the Fingers, where he marries her maternal aunt Lysa Arryn. Lysa is skeptical of Sansa’s arrival and keeps her only because of her relationship with her mother Catelyn, and promises Sansa that she will marry Lysa’s son Robert when he comes of age (noting that Tyrion will likely be dead by the time that happens). Sansa is displeased with this suggestion, but she replies courteously that she will think upon the matter.
Sansa begins to despise her life in the Eyrie as well as her young cousin, who is sickly, spoiled, immature, and has a shaking sickness. One day, Sansa makes a snow sculpture of Winterfell, where Lord Baelish helps her and later kisses her. Robert later destroys one of the towers, and Sansa, enraged, rips his doll and sends him into a fit. Later, an enraged and jealous Lysa, who witnessed the kiss between Sansa and Lord Baelish, attempts to murder Sansa by shoving her through the Moon Door. Petyr manages to stop her and professes his love for Catelyn before he pushes her through the door instead, killing her. Lysa’s singer, Marillion, is framed for the murder, and Petyr Baelish becomes the ruling Lord of the Vale. After Lysa’s death, Sansa becomes mistress of the Eyrie and pretends to be Petyr’s illegitimate daughter, Alayne Stone. She becomes knowledgeable about Petyr’s business affairs and learns that he intends to marry her to Harold Hardyng, “Harry the Heir” of the Eyrie, and have her reclaim Winterfell after the wedding.
As a character, Sansa is disliked by many fans,owing to her naïveté and her seeming helplessness. In contrast with her sister Arya, who is wild and independent, Sansa seems to believe that if she is pretty and well behaved, a prince will ride up and marry her and she will live happily ever after.After her father’s death, and under constant scrutiny in King’s Landing, she uses her lady’s courtesies as a defense mechanism.