The Dorne chapter of World of Ice and Fire is one I feel profoundly ambivalent about. On the one hand, of all of the kingdoms chapters it provides the most vivid portrait of a people, which does go to some lengths to giving Dornish culture more depth and variety. On the other hand, it is the least historical of any of the chapters, providing only a few snapshots of the very recent history of Dorne, which cannot help but give the chapter the feeling of a travelogue of an exoticized land, a land without history.
And this brings us to the issue of orientalism…
A Note on Orientalism
“Vast deserts of red and white sand, forbidding mountains where treacherous passes are guarded by treacherous peoples, sweltering heat, sandstorms, scorpions, fiery food, poison, castles made of mud, dates and figs and blood oranges…” (WOIAF)
Whether various elements of ASOIAF are orientalist is a frequently debated topic in the fandom, although more often focused on the various cultures of Essos. Unfortunately, this discourse is often done without either close-reading the text of ASOIAF (which would be Said’s method of analysis) or without referencing Orientalism directly, because Said was very precise about orientalism as a historically-bounded and -constructed phenomenon.
So is Dorne orientalist? Well, to the extent that Dorne as described in the WOAIF quote above follows the model of “Oriental despotism, Oriental splendor, cruelty, sensuality” that Said tracked through European literature, scholarship, and politics – yes. Indeed, to the extent that George R.R Martin based Dorne on Moorish Spain and the Levant during the Crusades, Dorne could hardly not be orientalist, given how medieval sources from Europe on the Arab conquest of Spain, the Reconquista, and the Crusades were influential in creating the foundations of orientalism. Said goes on at some length about this phenomenon:
“Consider how the Orient. and in particular the Near Orient, became known in the West as its great complementary opposite since antiquity…there were the redoubtable conquering Eastern movements, principally Islam. of course; there were the militant pilgrims, chiefly the Crusaders. Altogether an internally structured archive is built up from the literature that belongs to these experiences. Out of this comes a restricted number of typical encapsulations: the journey, the history, the fable, the stereotype, the polemical confrontation. These are the lenses through which the Orient is experienced, and they shape the language, perception, and form of the encounter between East and West.”
“Yet where Islam was concerned, European fear, if not always respect, was in order. After Mohammed’s death in 632, the military and later the cultural and religious hegemony of Islam grew enormously. First Persia, Syria, and Egypt, then Turkey, then North Africa fell to the Muslim armies; in the eighth and ninth centuries Spain, Sicily, and parts of France were conquered. By the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Islam ruled as far east as India, Indonesia, and China. And to this extraordinary assault Europe could respond with very little except fear and a kind of awe.”
“Not for nothing did Islam come to symbolize terror, devastation, the demonic hordes of hated barbarians. For Europe, Islam was lasting trauma. Until the end of the seventeenth century the “Ottoman peril” lurked alongside Europe to represent for the whole of Christian civilization a constant danger, and in time European civilization incorporated that peril and its lore, its great events, figures, virtues, and vices, as something woven into the fabric of life… Like Walter Scott’s Saracens, the European representation of the Muslim, Ottoman, or Arab was always a way of controlling the redoubtable Orient, and to a certain extent the same is true of the methods of contemporary learned Orientalists, whose subject is not so much the East itself as the East made known, and therefore less fearsome, to the Western reading public.”
“This rigorous Christian picture of Islam was intensified in innumerable ways, including-during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance-a large variety of poetry, learned controversy, and popular superstition. By this time the Near Orient had been all but incorporated in the common world-picture of Latin Christianity -as in the Chanson de Roland the worship of Saracens is portrayed as embracing Mahomet and Apollo.”
“In the depths of this Oriental stage stands a prodigious cultural repertoire whose individual items evoke a fabulously rich world: the Sphinx, Cleopatra, Eden, Troy, Sodom and Gomorrah, Astarte, Isis and Osiris, Sheba, Babylon, the Genii, the Magi, Nineveh, Prester John, Mahomet, and dozens more; settings, in some cases names only, half-imagined, half-known; monsters, devils, heroes; terrors, pleasures, desires. The European imagination was nourished extensively from this repertoire: between the Middle Ages and the eighteenth century such major authors as Ariosto, Milton, Marlowe, Tasso, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and the authors of the Chanson de Roland and the Poema del Cid drew on the Orient’s riches for their productions, in ways that sharpened the outlines of imagery, ideas, and figures populating it.”
“The European encounter with the Orient, and specifically with Islam, strengthened this system of representing the Orient and, as has been suggested by Henri Pirenne, turned Islam into the very epitome of an outsider against which the whole of European civilization from the Middle Ages on was founded.”
However, we can’t simply end the debate there, because Moorish Spain and the Levant during the Crusades were not the sole influences. GRRM has repeatedly cited the Welsh as another source of inspiration, as an often-romanticized nationalist resistance movement that used guerilla warfare against the superior manpower and firepower of the Plantagenets to try to preserve their culture, which markedly different attitudes towards inheritance, bastardy, and gender. Moreover, and I’ll get into this more when I get to the Targaryen Wars, Dorne’s resistance is also profoundly shaped by GRRM’s history as an opponent of the Vietnam War, especially when it comes to an imperial power raining fire down from the skies in an attempt to cow an elusive enemy into submission.
So the picture is more complicated than it might appear, both in terms of inspiration and perspective. We could perhaps call ASOIAF’s portrait of Doren as a kind of post-modern orientalism; Dorne may well be positioned as a place of “splendor, cruelty, [and] sensuality,” but for different purposes. Rather than using Dorne to contrast the “depraved…Oriental” against the “virtuous…European,” Dornish sensuality is portrayed as tolerant, progressive, and honest, compared to the hypocritical repression of Westerosi culture (personified by Aerys Oakheart, but one could also point to Tywin Lannister). Likewise, rather than characterized as “Oriental despotism,” Dorne is portrayed as more democratic (or at least more populist) and egalitarian, contrasted against the Targaryens’ brutal suppression of smallfolk activism and the general lack of care for the peasantry during the War of Five Kings. And while one can certainly point to the Red Viper’s poisons, the Wyls’ mutilations and snakes, and the Qorgyles’ scorpions, as emblematic of “Oriental cruelty,” we have plenty of examples of Westerosi lords using poisons to assassinate monarchs and lopping off limbs, so Dorne is hardly distinctive in that regard. Finally, within the world of ASOIAF, while there’s evidence of racial bigotry, the Westerosi don’t have the systemic “positional superiority” that Said places at the very heart of Orientalism; Dorne was never conquered and turned into an imperial province, and is frequently positioned as economically and technology in advance of the Seven Kingdoms.
But what if we go back to the text of ASOIAF; can a close reading show us more than the Orientalist legacy of the Reconquista and the Crusades?
As the WOIAF tries to point out, “there is more to this ancient principality” than the stereotypes held by Westerosi smallfolk, and one can find elements of nuance and diversity written into each region of Dorne. In the mountains, the cruelty of the Wyls and the Blackmonts is contrasted by the chivalry and honor of the Daynes; in the deserts, the cunning of the Ullers and the Qorgyles is there, but so is the scholarship of the Jordaynes and the piety of the Allyrions; and at the mouth of the Greenblood, we have the cultural contrast between the Martells and the Orphans of the Greenblood. However, I would argue that this diversity is buried deep in the details, making it easy for those who read at a superficial level (looking at you, Benioff and Weiss) to see nothing but the stereotype.
On a sidenote of a sidenote, I would argue that an additional difficulty lies in the ongoing difficult both in the ASOIAF fandom and on the show as to how to depict the whiteness or non-whiteness of the Dornish: as many people have noted GRRM’s textual descriptions often present a darker and more racially diverse Dorne than the one depicted in the “official” art in World of Ice and Fire (which, to take just one example, on p. 241 portrays Nymeria and Mors Martell as having essentially the same skin tone). Likewise, the show portrayal of the Sand Snakes subsumed the ethnic and cultural diversity of Oberyn’s daughters in favor of a homogenized emphasis on sex and violence.
Ultimately, this essay is primarily concerned about to the historical and political development of Dorne. Is there any element of Orientalism there? Even in WOIAF, which tries to enrich and complicate Dornish culture and history, there are significant problems:
“Rather than listing all the figures of speech associated with the Orient-its strangeness, its difference, its exotic sensuousness, and so forth-we can generalize about them as they were handed down through the Renaissance. They are all declarative and self-evident; the tense they employ is the timeless eternal.”
As I stated at the very beginning of the chapter, Dorne appears in its own chapter to be a land without time. As I’ll discuss in more detail later in this essay, we don’t get much of a sense of how it developed as a polity in between the early days of the First Men and the coming of the Rhoynar. What little we get comes mostly from chapters on the Reach and the Stormlands, so that the Dornish of that era largely appear as the antagonists of someone else’s story, complicating the efforts of the Gardeners or the Durrandons to unify their states by raiding but never conquering themselves, never changing the map of the Seven Kingdoms. We don’t get any understanding of what the territorial ambitions of the Daynes and the Fowlers and the Yronwoods were, compared to our understanding of the imperial visions of Gyles III or Arlan III – and without a sense of what the kings of Dorne dreamed their state could be, we can’t recenter the story of Dorne with the Dornish as the protgaonists.
Nor, and this is an equally if not more important point, do we have any understanding of Dornish culture before the coming of the Rhoynar. As I’ll discuss in more detail later, we have a quite rich understanding of how Nymeria and her heirs changed Dornish culture and the legacy of Rhoynish settlement in the present day, but without a clear picture of “before,” we can’t tell what aspects of present day Dornish culture date back longer than 1,000 years. As a result, it is sometimes hard to escape the false impression that somehow the Dornish have always been as they are now.
So in the end, I bring up this note not to condemn, but to say that more could be Dorne to give Dorne its historical agency back, to truly enrich and complicate our understanding of this fictional culture, and the more that can be done, the further away from Orientalist stereotype we will go.
Speaking of orientalism, one of the things we have to be careful to avoid is the idea that geography creates a monolithic, natural, and eternal “Dornishness,” incapable of change. Indeed, in the series, the Red Mountains, the southern deserts, and the Greenblood river valley are explicitly linked to the Stony, Sandy, Salty typology imposed by Daeron I:
From such origins did the three distinct types of Dornishmen we know today arise. The Young Dragon, King Daeron I Targaryen, gave them the names we know them by in his book, The Conquest of Dorne. Stony Dornishmen, sandy Dornishmen, and salty Dornishmen, he named them. The stony Dornishmen were the mountain folk, fair of hair and skin, mostly descended from the First Men and the Andals; the sandy Dornishmen dwell in the deserts and river valleys, with their skin burned brown beneath the blazing Dornish sun; the salty Dornishmen of the coasts, dark-haired and lithe and olive-skinned, have the queerest customs and the most Rhoynish blood. (WOIAF)
However, if we look under the essentializing schema (which tends to completely obscure the roots of Dornish nationalism; more on that later) set down by would-be imperialists, we see that geography has actually produced a good deal of cultural diversity within the geographic subregions of Dorne rather than a single Dornish culture. The common thread here is water politics:
“Most of the First Men who chose to remain in Dorne, instead of wandering north in search of sweeter lands, settled close to the banks of the Greenblood, digging canals and ditches to bring its life-giving waters to the trees and crops they planted…The more restless of the First Men pushed onward and made homes for themselves in the foothills south of the Red Mountains, where storms moving north were wont to drop their moisture, creating a fertile green belt. Those who climbed farther took refuge amongst the peaks, in hidden valleys and high mountain meadows where the grass was green and sweet. Only the bravest and the maddest dared to strike out inland across the deep sands. A few of these found water amongst the dunes and raised holdfasts and castles on those oasis; their descendants, centuries later, became the Lords of the Wells…”(WOIAF)
In the mountains, access to rivers and rainfall raised the Daynes and the Yronwoods to kingship – although clearly trade was equally an important factor, given the rise of the Fowlers who claimed no such water access but who dominated the Wide Way that is the major caravan route in and out of Dorne. In the southern deserts, water was so important that the political class were called “the lords of the wells,” although technically the Drylands and Ullers were/are riverine rather than oasitic. The Greenblood gives us the best example of how geography and culture interact: here, the necessities of cooperation to construct extensive irrigation works, which take larger labor forces than any one in-group could provide, as well as the common reliance on a single river (which requires some means of negotiating water rights between upstream and downstream), contributed to the creation of an elective High Kingship in that region.
Other aspects of geography can be shown to have shaped Dorne in other ways: the wind and water currents that cause the “big storms that formed down in the Summer Sea would pick up moisture moving north until they slammed into Cape Wrath. For some strange reason the storms never seemed to strike at Dorne,” (TWOW) which restricts agriculture to a few regions and leads to Dorne’s “thinly peopled” status. The lack of accessible harbors along the southern coast of Dorne which restricts maritime commerce to the far east of Dorne (although I remain puzzled as to how merchants going from and to Lannisport or Oldtown do for water and other supplies).
“The disunity of the Dornish is apparent even from our oldest sources. The great distances between each pocket of settlement and the difficulties of travel across burning sands and rugged mountains helped to isolate each small community from all the others and led to the rise of many petty lords, more than half of whom in time began to style themselves kings. Petty kings existed throughout all of Westeros, to be sure, but seldom so many (nor so petty) as the Dornish kings under the First Men.” (WOIAF)
As I suggested above, one of my major critiques of the Dorne chapter of WOIAF is that the First Men and Andal periods of Dornish history are sketchy to the point of virtual non-existence, despite the fact that these two epochs together span 11,000 years. What we do have is a narrative of state foundation…
“At the mouth of the Torrentine, House Dayne raised its castle on an island where that roaring, tumultuous river broadens to meet the sea. Legend says the first Dayne was led to the site when he followed the track of a falling star and there found a stone of magical powers. His descendants ruled over the western mountains for centuries thereafter as Kings of the Torrentine and Lords of Starfall. North and east, beyond a great gap in the mountains that provided the shortest and easiest passage from Dorne to the Reach, House Fowler carved its own seat into the stony slopes overlooking the pass. Skyreach, that seat became known, for its lofty perch and soaring stone towers. At the time, the pass it brooded over was commonly known as the Wide Way (today we name it the Prince’s Pass), so the Fowlers took for themselves the grandiose titles of Lords of Skyreach, Lords of the Wide Way, and Kings of Stone and Sky.
In a similar vein, far to the east where the mountains ran down to the Sea of Dorne, House Yronwood established itself in the high valleys and green foothills below the peaks and seized control of the Stone Way, the second of the two great passes into Dorne (one far steeper, narrower, and more treacherous than the Wide Way of the west). Well protected and comparably fertile, their lands were also well timbered and possessed of valuable deposits of iron, tin, and silver as well, making the Yronwoods the richest and most powerful of the Dornish kings. Styling themselves the Bloodroyals, Lords of the Stone Way, Masters of the Green Hills, and High Kings of Dorne, the lords of House Yronwood in time ruled northern Dorne, from the mountain domains of House Wyl to the headwaters of the Greenblood … though their efforts to bend the other Dornish kings to their will were seldom successful.
A second, rival High King of Dorne also existed during the times of the First Men, ruling from a great wooden motte-and-bailey castle on the south bank of Greenwood near Lemonwood, where the river flows into the Summer Sea. This was a curious kingship, for whenever a king died, his successor was chosen by election from amongst a dozen noble families that had settled along the river or the eastern shores. The Wades, Shells, Holts, Brooks, Hulls, Lakes, Brownhills, and Briars all threw up kings who ruled from the high hall amongst the lemon trees, but in the end this curious system broke down when a disputed election set the royal houses to warring against one another. After a generation of conflict, three of the old houses were wiped from the earth, and the once-powerful river realm had shattered into a dozen quarrelsome petty kingdoms.” (WOIAF)
…but not a narrative of state development. We learn of the Daynes, the Fowlers, and the Yronwoods founding their separate kingdoms, but with the sole exception of the collapse of the High Kings of the Greenblood (and even there it’s a brief sketch without any explanation as to why and how the contested election, we don’t learn at all about how these kingdoms changed after their founding. It’s as if the chapter on the North ended with the Starks defeating the Barrow Kings, or the chapter on the Westerlands ended with Lann the Clever supplanting the Casterlys, or the chapter on the Reach ended with Garth Greenhand.
This huge gap in the historical record leaves us with many crucial questions about Dorne’s political development: how and why did the Yronwoods’ attempts to conquer Dorne fail? What were the relations between the neighboring kingdoms of the Daynes and the Fowlers? Did the nine remaining houses of the Greenbloods remain “quarrelsome petty kingdoms” for thousands of years without any change? WOIAF gives us no answers to these questions.
Without direct evidence, we instead have to look for indirect evidence. Regarding the High Kingship of the Greenblood, we can say from the fact that there were twelve houses which “threw up kings who ruled from the high hall amongst the lemon trees,” the monarchical plural suggests that the system must have lasted for at least 720 years (assuming each house ruled at least twice) and could have easily lasted for much longer. To explain why the Yronwoods, who in the era of the First Men “ruled northern Dorne, from the mountain domains of House Wyl to the headwaters of the Greenblood” failed to “bend the other Dornish Kings” to their will, we can look to their titles:
“Yorick Yronwood, the Bloodroyal, Fifth of His Name, Lord of Yronwood, Warden of the Stone Way, Knight of the Wells, King of Redmarch, King of the Greenbelt, and King of the Dornish…” (WOIAF)
While some of these titles speak to the origins of Yronwood power or the antiquity of their blood, the style of “Knight of the Wells, King of Redmarch, King of the Greenbelt” reflect claims to the whole of the Red Mountains (and indeed, the Dornish Marches beyond), the southern deserts, and the whole of the Greenblood as opposed to just its headwaters. This in turn suggests an attempt to expand in three theaters of war, leading to overreach that left them too thinly-spread to make good on any one. Moreover, by making enemies of the Daynes, the Fowlers, the Drylands, and the High Kings of the Greenblood simultaneously, the Yronwoods may well have kicked off a “Lesser Game” in Dorne, whereby the multitudinous kings of that land dogpiled on the strongest of them to prevent them from “winning” and subjugating all other monarchs.
But as I suggested above, to find evidence for state development in Dorne, we have to look to foreign policy. We know from the history of the Reach that Dornish kings frequently warred with that kingdom:
“Thrice in the space of a single century the city was taken and sacked, once by the Dornish king Samwell Dayne (the Starfire)…”
“Garth VII, the Goldenhand, a giant in both war and peace. As a boy, he turned back the Dornish when King Ferris Fowler led ten thousand men through the Wide Way (as the Prince’s Pass was then called), intent on conquest.” (WOIAF)
From this brief snippet (and if we can assume that the siege of Oldtown during the reign of Garth X was carried out by a Dayne), we can say that the Daynes had something of a regional rivalry with the Hightowers of Oldtown. Moreover, given that these sieges involved more than just opportunistic raiding to extract riches from their neighbor, this suggests that the Daynes hoped to extend their power and influence across the Torrentine into the fertile lands beyond, perhaps even hoping to conquer that rich and powerful port city to make up for the lack of their own harbor. Similarly, we can extrapolate from the case of King Ferris that House Fowler seems likely to have warred against House Peake, House Tarly, and House Caron, seeking not merely to raid but to conquer. Speculating for a second, it would seem likely that the Fowlers’ aims would have initially encompassed the fortresses of the marcher lords which barred their passage into the Reach, and then beyond that likely included access to the Cockleswent to gain independent access to a source of water.
At the same time, over to the east, the Yronwoods and their vassals seem to have focused their efforts largely against the Durrandons:
“It was Durran the Young, also known as the Butcher Boy, who dammed the river Slayne with Dornish corpses, after turning back Yoren Yronwood and the warrior maid Wylla of Wyl in the Battle by the Bloody Pool…
The Storm King was embroiled in his own wars at the time, attempting to reconquer Massey’s Hook from its infamous pirate king, Justin Milk-Eye, whilst fending off the incursions of the Dornish king Olyvar Yronwood…” (WOIAF)
As with the Daynes and the Hightowers, it’s likely that these conflicts began with the desire of the Yronwoods to gain control over the River Slayne and the arable lands beyond, given how critically important water and the agricultural wealth that comes with it are in Dorne. Moreover, I think we can also see a geostrategic impulse, in that access to the Stormlands would allow the Yronwoods to outflank the eastern marcher houses, and even a commercial interest, to the extent that controlling the entire length of the caravan routes that went through the Boneway would allow them to dictate the terms of trade.
We can even find some small hints of inter-kingdom cooperation, as that the separate Dornish kings seem to have agreed that their survival in the “Great Game” (link) required that their strongest neighbor to the North (usually but not always the Reach) had to be constantly weakened. Hence why multiple kings of Dorne were able to cooperate, however opportunistically, in wars against the Gardeners:
“The broader war that followed involved three Dornish kings and two from the riverlands, and ended with Gyles III dead of a bloody flux and the borders between the realms restored to more or less where they had been before the bloodletting began.”
“With the lords of the Reach at swordpoint and the king too feeble to grasp what was occurring, much less stop it, the Storm King and the King of the Rock seized the moment, and large swathes of territory, whilst the Dornish raids grew bolder and more frequent. One Dornish king besieged Oldtown, whilst another crossed the Mander and sacked Highgarden.” (WOIAF)
That being said, this very much seems to have been the exception to the rule. As the quote that began this sub-section suggests, the First Men era of Dornish history seems to have been marked much more by disunity than unification, more akin to the Vale or the Riverlands than the North, the Westerlands, or the Reach.
That being the case, you would think the Andals would have completely devastated Dorne.
The Coming of the Andals
When it comes to both specific historical information and historical agency, things don’t get much better when it comes to the Andal Invasion, an event which was elsewhere a profoundly transformative event but appears to have been something of a non-event in Dorne:
“The Andals made their mark on Dorne, as they did on all Westeros south of the Neck. Yet most historians agree that their impact was less here than in any of the other southron kingdoms. Unlike the First Men, the Andals were seafarers, and the more adventurous of their captains knew the Dornish coasts well and were wont to say that there was naught to be found there but snakes, scorpions, and sand. Small wonder then that comparatively few of the invaders bent their oars southward when there were richer, greener lands far closer at hand, just across the narrow sea from Andalos itself.” (WOIAF)
Part of this lesser impact no doubt had to do with the smaller numbers of Andals who migrated to Dorne, but another part no doubt had to do with the fact that, as a thinly-peopled country, there was less occasion for conflict over land, with so much empty land available for settlement:
“…the Ullers and the Qorgyles; the former raised a grim, stinking seat beside the sulfurous yellow waters of the Brimstone, whilst the latter established themselves amidst the dunes and deep sands, fortifying the only well for fifty leagues around. Farther east, the Vaiths raised a tall, pale castle in the hills, at the juncture of the two streams that formed the river that soon bore their name. Elsewhere in the realm, the Allyrions, the Jordaynes, and the Santagars carved out holdings for themselves.”
Here, we do see an interesting example of how Dornish culture is more complicated than the stony/sandy/salty schema: the “sandy” Dornish are categorized as “more Rhoynish” and yet the Ullers and the Qorgyles (and possibly the Santagars) are “sandy” Houses of Andal origin, who seem to have relatively peacefully integrated with the First Men “Lords of the Wells” like the Drylands. Likewise, the Vaiths, Allyrions, and Jordaynes are all “salty” Dornish of Andal origin, who seem to have founded their “holdings” without conflict with their First Men neighbors. In general, the Andals seem to have folded into the existing cultures of the mountains, the deserts, and the Greenblood.
As interesting as this cultural harmony is, it contributes to the lack of history as discussed in the Introduction. Whereas we can point to distinctive Andal contributions to the history and culture of the Vale, the Riverlands, the Westerlands, and the Reach – the Faith of the Seven, ironworking and castle-building, the pageantry of chivalric romance, and so on – this chapter leaves us with no sense of how Dornish culture changed after the coming of the Andals, and without that it becomes quite difficult to tell what parts of Dornish culture belong to the Andals (to say nothing of the First Men) and what to the Rhoynar. (Additionally, we don’t get any understanding of how Dornish foreign policy changed either, with the exception of a rather inexplicable coalition of three Dornish kings to aid King Cleoden I Durrandon against Drox the Corpse Maker.)
One important exception to this rule of unchanging timelessness, and doubly important for their actions later in history, were the Martells of Sunspear:
And on the eastern shore, between the Broken Arm and the Greenblood, an Andal adventurer named Morgan Martell and his kin descended on lands loosely held by House Wade and House Shell, defeated them in battle, seized their villages, burned their castles, and established dominion over a strip of stony coastlands fifty leagues long and ten leagues wide. Over the centuries that followed, their strength grew…but slowly, for then and now the lords of House Martell were renowned for their caution. Until the coming of Nymeria, no Dornishman would ever have counted them amongst the great powers of the country. Indeed, though surrounded by kings on every side, the Martells themselves never presumed to claim that title, and at certain points in their history, they willingly bent the knees to the Jordayne kings of the Tor, the pious Allyrions of Godsgrace, the many petty kings of the Greenblood, and the mighty Yronwoods of Yronwood. (WOIAF)
Once again, we see an odd lurch in the historical agency of the pre-Rhoynar Dornish. The Martells are simultaneously ambitious enough to conquer the coast of eastern Dorne and completely shatter the existing coastal culture of the petty kingdoms that followed the elective High Kingship, but then they become largely inactive for more than five thousand years until the arrival of Nymeria; it’s as if the authors of this chapter are putting the Martells on a shelf until they are needed. Given the extent of their ambitions in 700 BC, it’s frankly unbelievable that no ambitions lurked in Martell hearts for those long epochs.
And then Nymeria came to Dorne…
 Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vinatage Books, 1978), p. 4.
 Said, p. 58-70.
 Ibid, p. 40.
 Ibid, p. 7.
 The particular culture of the “stony” Dornish and their raiding of the Dornish Marches and beyond can be seen as much as a reference to the portrayal of Afghan tribal culture as appeared in Western adventure fiction frequently after the British occupation of that country (link), which not only was a common feature of Victorian “boy’s own” tales from Rudyard Kipling on but also featured quite prominently in the work of early fantasy authors like Robert E. Howard, as it does to the border reivers of the Welsh and Scottish Marches.
 Although one could perhaps point to the tradition of Saladin as an honorable opponent, the “virtuous heathen,” in medieval Orientalist literature, so your mileage might vary on whether the Daynes break with Orientalist tropes.
 Said, p. 72.