credit to Sir Other-in-Law
If in Part I, there was a crippling lack of information about the history of Dorne, with the arrival of Nymeria and the Rhoynar we go from drought to flood. While I would argue that the full story of Nymeria’s odyssey to Dorne is one of the best additions to WOIAF, providing a great and sweeping drama of storms, pirates, haunted lost cities, plagues, and finally a safe harbor, the sheer romantic force of the story can obscure as much as it reveals. To give one short example:
“The mightiest river in the world, the Rhoyne’s many tributaries stretched across much of western Essos. Along their banks had arisen a civilization and culture as storied and ancient as the Old Empire of Ghis. The Rhoynar had grown rich off the bounty of their river; Mother Rhoyne, they named her. Fishers, traders, teachers, scholars, workers in wood and stone and metal, they raised their elegant towns and cities from the headwaters of the Rhoyne down to her mouth, each lovelier than the last…
Art and music flourished in the cities of the Rhoyne, and it is said their people had their own magic —a water magic very different from the sorceries of Valyria, which were woven of blood and fire. Though united by blood and culture and the river that had given them birth, the Rhoynish cities were elsewise fiercely independent, each with its own prince…or princess, for amongst these river folk, women were regarded as the equals of men.
The Rhoynish warrior with his silver-scaled armor, fish-head helm, tall spear, and turtle-shell shield was esteemed and feared by all those who faced him in battle…” (WOIAF)
This is a quite rich picture of Rhoynish culture, and we can see in it the seeds of much of Dornish culture: its arts and its music, its gender egalitarianism, its technology, and even its way of war. The problem is that the more we learn, the harder it becomes to see a distinctly Dornish culture before the Rhoynar came: what gods did they worship, since the weirwood-less First Men of Dorne were unlikely to have taken up the Old Gods of the Children of the Forest? Which songs did they sing? What were their customs and traditions of gender roles? How did they go to war? And these questions are quite important when it comes to how we analyze the story of Nymeria and the Rhoynar: is this a story of immigration and cultural integration or a story of colonization?