Who can forget how Sansa lost her virginity to her sociopathic new husband, Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones? It was during a night of horrific (and controversial) rape, no less. However the same rape fate doesn't befall the eldest Stark daughter on the pages of George R. R. Martin's novels. So who does Sansa lose her virginity to in the Game of Thrones books?
In the fictional world of Westeros as portrayed in HBO's Game Of Thrones, women are valued primarily for three things: Their usefulness in solidifying political alliances through marriage, their ability to provide lords with male heirs, and their willingness to sell themselves for men's pleasure. Of course, the women who don't fulfill any of those three criteria have the option of joining the Faith and becoming either septas or literal Silent Sisters (the mute women who prepare corpses for burial).
In a world where men really only view women as sexual objects, it's remarkable that beautiful, young Sansa lasted four-and-a-half seasons with her virginity intact — even through a betrothal to a sadistic boy king (Joffrey), a loveless marriage to an enemy (Tyrion), and a quasi-courtship with a lustful benefactor (Littlefinger). Then, of course, Ramsay raped her, because he's downright terrible. But, in the books, things go very differently for Sansa and her sexuality. (Spoilers ahead.)
Actually, book-Sansa is still very much a virgin as of the end of Martin's fourth novel, A Feast For Crows. (The character doesn't appear in Book 5, A Dance With Dragons.) She's still holed up in the Vale of Arryn with Littlefinger and Lord Robert (the spoiled young lord is named Robin on the show from his nickname "Sweetrobin," presumably to avoid confusion with King Robert). Sansa is indeed engaged to be married, but not to Ramsay — rather to Harrold Hardyng.
"Who the heck is Harrold Hardyng?" would be a completely legitimate question right about now. Even in the books, this name comes out of left field. At the end of Feast we've still never met him, and we'd only heard his name mentioned a handful of times before Petyr Baelish announced his betrothal to Sansa. (It should be noted that, in the books, Sansa is still parading around under the pseudonym of Alayne, supposedly Littlefinger's own bastard daughter... which makes his flirtations with her, if possible, even creepier.)
Okay, so who is Harrold? His nickname should give some indication of why this unfamiliar man is important: Harry the Heir. He is the son of the eighth daughter of the younger sister of poor poisoned Jon Arryn. (How's that for a confusing family tree?) Through a combination of war, disease, misfortune, and sheer dumb luck everyone else in line to succeed Jon's son has died... leaving Harry, a distant and once unimportant cousin, the next to inherit the title of Lord of the Vale and Warden of the East, should anything happen to little epileptic lord Robert.
Given how feeble Sweetrobin is, no one would be surprised should he suddenly pass away... leaving Sansa engaged to his successor. Then, with the full might of the knights of the Vale at her back, she would be in a supreme position to reclaim her homeland from the dastardly Boltons. (If only.)
Allow me to introduce you to Sansa's intended — and presumably the man who will take her virginity, barring some unforeseen catastrophe before the wedding (which, given his family's track record and the history of Westerosi weddings, is certainly not out of the realm of possibility). Here's how Harrold Hardyng is described in the Sansa preview chapter:
"Ser Harrold Hardyng looked every inch a lord-in-waiting; clean-limbed and handsome, straight as a lance, hard with muscle. Men old enough to have known Jon Arryn in his youth said Ser Harrold had his look, she knew. He had a mop of sandy blond hair, pale blue eyes, an aquiline nose."
Of course, Sansa is quick to point out that Joffrey was also "comely" — and Ramsay is, objectively speaking, not unattractive. So looks aren't everything. And sure enough, Harry wastes no time being a total jerk to "Alayne," insulting her bastard status in front of pretty much everyone. But, before the end of the chapter, Sansa has the arrogant heir wrapped around her little finger (pun intended); by treating him with as much disdain as he showed her, she actually manages to intrigue her husband-to-be.
I'm not so naïve to believe that Martin will have Sansa lose her virginity to her one true love during a romantic evening of candles and lemon cakes. But, hopefully her experience in the books — whether with Harry or someone else entirely — is at least significantly less traumatizing than the one her onscreen counterpart went through this season.