Fandom: Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire
Word Count: 225,759
Summary: "An alternate universe where instead of Tyrion, Tywin Lannister marries Sansa Stark himself."
Remember weeks ago when I wrote about how I read a 200k+ Tywin/Sansa fic that hit me in a way that I had never expected? Here is the much anticipated review of that fanfic.
I completely understand that Tysan is not everyone's cup of tea, and I really didn't think it would be mine (still don't actually ship it in canon, but anyway), but if there's even a small part of you that is intrigued by the idea of this kind of canon divergence, I recommend "Pride and Pack" wholeheartedly.
You'll find out pretty quickly if it just isn't your thing because the first scene is one of the reasons AllTheDances gave it an explicit rating. But if you aren't turned off by the smut (and the knowledge that there will be a lot more), then you're in for a really amazing journey.
AllTheDances wastes no time getting directly into the story and the first chapter (after the prologue) sees Tywin and Sansa wedded. From there, the fic focuses mainly on their growing relationship and how their marriage affects the rest of the canon world.
There is a habit in the ASOIAF fandom of writing fix-it fics that see all the wrongs in canon righted and all the beloved characters getting happy endings, which I am guilty of as well. But "Pride and Pack" does not do that. This fic does not shy away from the horrors that proliferate canon and the violence, gore, death, war, despair and evil that help make ASOIAF what it is.
Marrying Tywin doesn't make Sansa's life immediately better, it doesn't make her family safe, it doesn't end the wars ravaging the continent, it doesn't eliminate the threats they are under as part of the royal family. But it does give Sansa the chance she didn't have in the books to become a strong and cunning woman who can stand up to some of the most fearsome and powerful people in the world.
Seeing Sansa's development and journey is one of the best things about this fic, and seeing her become familiar with the politics of Westeros while using her position and power to help those she can shows that no matter if she has embraced her union with Tywin, she is still a Stark at heart.
The arc of Sansa and Tywin slowly getting used to each other, understanding their partner and even more slowly starting to care for each other, is written in a way that feels organic and real. As the reader, you believe in their story, and no matter if you think Tywin arranging their marriage in the first place was awful and despicable, you understand how everything that they encounter on their path pushes them together more and forges them into a family.
AllTheDances writes Tywin in a way that both causes intrigue and delves into his backstory, motivations and personality in a way that just doesn't happen in canon. The Lannister patriarch in this story is more than just the evil man who orchestrated the Red Wedding and arranged the game pieces in a way that benefitted his house the most. He is still that man, the one who is capable of great horrors, but his motivations are altered, his outlook on life different with a new wife and a growing family he can see as the future of the Lannister name.
The way this fic handles canon events, even ones that have not happened yet in the books—the Red Wedding, the arrival of Daenerys, the Long Night—and seamlessly integrates them with non-canon plots causes "Pride and Pack" to feel both like a really well-written ASOIAF fanfiction and a completely original story. No character feels wrongly written, no plot point feels out of the blue, no storyline feels forced.
AllTheDances created a world that is recognizable while being completely new and different with characters you feel for. They draw you in with character development and intriguing plots and then shock you with horrors and violence that you really shouldn't be shocked about. They make you care about characters that ASOIAF made you hate, and hate characters you originally loved.
Separated into six parts each broken up into chapters—plus a prologue and epilogue—"Pride and Pack" is one of those fics that you don't stop thinking about once you've read the last word and closed out the page. It sticks with you even as the tears dry on your cheeks.
The last part titled "Truth" ties up the story in a way that is equal parts heartbreaking and reasonable. You know from the beginning that "Pride and Pack" will not end with every character you come to care about being happy and alive and safe, but no matter how much you try, you cannot prepare for the emotions that take over while reading the final chapters of "Truth" and the epilogue.
And a fanfiction that can surprise you with the emotions it causes you to feel, that leaves you both content and anguished by the end is a work of art.
"Pride and Pack" is wrapped up with an epilogue set decades after the prologue, which causes the reader to think about all that the characters have endured since that first day, how they have changed and how the world has changed. The ending gives the reader a glimpse into what the future looks like for characters they love and ones they have just met and emphasizes that, no matter what happens, Starks and Lannisters endure and survive and find happiness in any way they can.