Politics of the Seven Kingdoms: Dorne (Part I)


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[1] 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.”[2]

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).[3] 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[4]; 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[5] is contrasted by the chivalry and honor of the Daynes[6]; 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.”[7]

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.

Land of Dorne


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).

Historical Development

“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.


File: banner of House Qorgyle.jpg

Credit to Tomasz Jedruszek

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…




[1] Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vinatage Books, 1978), p. 4.

[2] Said, p. 58-70.

[3] Ibid, p. 40.

[4] Ibid, p. 7.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] Said, p. 72.


40 thoughts on “Politics of the Seven Kingdoms: Dorne (Part I)

  1. Grant says:

    Is it possible that the Martells saw what happened to the Yronwoods every time they tried to expand further than they could hold, both out of Dorne and inside?

    Incidentally, it would be “Afghan” tribal culture. An Afghani is a unit of currency (unless you’re referring to some much older usage of Afghani).

  2. medrawt says:

    The whole Dornish identity (and representation) thing is interesting to me. As you write, the history of the various Kingdoms we know is one of a single power expanding its territory through the conquest or assimilation of neighboring powers to achieve something like the “modern” borders of the 7K, usually fairly early in the process, if not during First Men days then by the Andals, and the formation of a regional identity seems to be basically baked in – if there was ever a point when, say, the Crakehalls wouldn’t have considered themselves “Westerlanders” it’s thousands and thousands of years in the past. But the Dornish seem to have developed their identity, perhaps through opposition by the Reach and Stormlands, despite the political disunity and internal diversity of activities (how much do the people in the Dornish interior really care about the marcher wars?). Or perhaps we’re to read this as the WOIAF’s metafictional bias, interpreting “Dornishness” on people who wouldn’t have considered themselves “Dornish” before Nymeria made them one people?

    The ethnic component is also interesting to me, but pretty complicated; I myself am of Portuguese and Spanish heritage, and when I read Martin’s descriptions I interpreted them as similar to the ways in which northern Europeans would describe southern Europeans, particularly in the days when sentiments like “Europe ends at the Pyrenees” or, more extremely, “the wogs begin at Calais” had real currency. Hell, Ben Franklin didn’t think Germans counted as “white,” and considered them damnably swarthy (along with Scandinavians). There’s a history of “othering” the appearance and culture of more-southerly-or-easterly Europeans with the same types of descriptive language used for non-European-but-what-used-to-be-called-“Caucasoid”-ethnicities (North African, Arabic, etc.) – and to be fair, with the right face you can plausibly pass for all sorts of things, and Iberia in particular is affected by North African influence anyway. Of course, much of the “swarthy” component of Dornish appearance is attributed, in-universe, to the Rhoynar … and I look at the map of where the Rhoynish used to be and I throw up my hands in despair at what in the world Martin intends us to make of the ethnic makeup of Essos. In any case, it’s interesting to see per the link you sent that Martin seems to have approved artwork which strongly suggests non-European appearances for some Dornish, and if that’s what he intends then it’s a shame that not all the official artwork supports that.

    (And let’s not even get into how this worked on the show!)

    • I’ve always wondered why the description of the Dornish as “olive-skinned and dark haired” was taken as definite PROOF that they were POC. Don’t get me wrong, I would’t, and don’t, argue against including more diversity in the show, but the description is so vague it could apply to…what, a third of the population of the planet? I mean, I’m Irish, and I have family members it could apply to, and lord knows the Irish are pretty damn white (I can pass for Mediterranean myself, if the number of times I’ve been asked for directions by Greeks while in Greece is anything to go by). Which would seem to indicate a need to be more specific in conveying the idea.

      It all seems to reflect a very American perception of race, that doesn’t – as you say – apply particularly well to the European models that Martin appears to be drawing from.

      • There’s other quotes that suggest darker skin:

        “The salty Dornishmen were lithe and dark, with smooth olive skin and long black hair streaming in the wind. The sandy Dornishmen were even darker, their faces burned brown by the hot Dornish sun.”

        “In Dorne he went about bare-chested, and turned brown as a Dornishman.”

        Plus there’s the art of Arianne GRRM approved.

        • medrawt says:

          Sure, but all of that could be read ambiguously, depending on which tradition, if any, Martin’s dabbling in. “Olive” skin has been used for all corners of the Mediterranean (and beyond), and at the beginning of Kim, doesn’t Kipling suggest the boy is so tanned that people have to look twice to register that he isn’t Indian? As you said in your reply to me, I think the real answer is that Martin probably doesn’t have a consistent picture in mind that definitively corresponds to some real world ethnicity. Which is fine! The point is that Westerosi see the Dornish as different – it’s when transitioning into visual media that it becomes a sticky question.

        • To be honest, that was the exact passage I was thinking about when I said it was vague – it could apply equally to people from Ireland and from China as well as many places in between (in both directions), so it’s functionally useless if you’re trying to use it to determine race or ethnicity. Which…the show’s casting kind of bears me out on, with what I know about the origins of Alexander Siddig, Indira Varma and Pedro Pascal (incidentally, I’ve never seen such a WASTE of a talented actor in my life as what they did to Alexander Siddig).

          That said, the art you mention is gorgeous, and…the main thing I’ve taken from this is that writers need to be specific – generalised descriptions don’t convey enough to be useful, especially if they’re being interpreted by people who are…less than thoughtful when it comes to matters of race.

          • medrawt says:

            I’m not even sure that writers, generally, do need to be specific. Martin’s intention is whatever it is, going in to painstaking description to make sure it’s clear that a fantasy ethnicity should be interpreted as equivalent to some real world ethnicity is maybe a dodgy enterprise … as long as it’s on the page, it can be vague. Martin describes several people(s) who don’t look like any real world ethnicity; it’s no big deal if he doesn’t have a specific vision or doesn’t want to deal with real world analogs. It’s in making the transition to visual representation that it becomes a much more complicated issue.

            re: Siddig, Doran made me think of his appearance on an early episode of MI-5, which I think was Spooks over in the British Isles; he has a small monologue about British/western perceptions of “the East” – I think he has a bitter line about imagining “maidens serving you dates on golden plates”. When I saw what they were doing with him on GoT, I thought of that speech and hoped he was enjoying his paycheck.

          • To illustrate the complexity of the issues we’re talking about…what is the British Isles exactly? I’m Irish and acknowledge no such thing. 😉

            It did cross my mind when replying that trying to describe the specifics of race or ethnicity in a novel could EASILY lead a writer into some dodgy, dodgy areas. It’s the transition to a medium as married to realism as film that causes the problem – theatre casting can be utterly colourblind without straining suspension of disbelief particularly, but for some reason that doesn’t apply to television or film, which are mediums that can only…depict the fantastic by making it as REAL as possible. It’s a theatre convention I often wish would spread.

      • medrawt says:

        I understand why people read it that way, because the language is vague and the representation of how the Dornish are othered and discriminated against by the rest of Westeros plays into our perception that they’re ethnically distinct (especially for a modern American audience). Then, as the link Steven posted notes, Martin has approved artwork that appears to clearly depict Dornish figures as non-European in appearance. My own first reading was that the Dornish looked Iberian, because of my awareness that when Spaniards and Portuguese weren’t “white” their swarthy olive complexions were played up to distinguish them from their northern neighbors; but that could very well be counter to Martin’s intentions.

        My issue with the show’s depiction of Dorne is that it plays into the show’s casting of non-“white” people as racially fungible. It could be intended to portray diversity, but mostly it reads to me as “anybody Benioff and Weiss think can read as ‘nonwhite’ will do” – especially since they started with the very Spanish looking Pedro Pascal before moving on to actors of partial Indian and Sudanese ancestry. (Not to mention they do the same thing with the Dothraki.) But that’s maybe not fair of me, because my own life experience is that my appearance is similarly fungible, based on other people’s guesses about my heritage, and I don’t get that annoyed when actors play cross-ethnicity if they look plausible.

        But I’m definitely not confident in saying Martin is drawing on European models with this stuff, because Essos seems like a weird patchwork rather than the kind of flow of appearance you see in the real world – the people of the Free Cities and Qarth are both described in ways the reader interprets as “white,” but the Ghiscari in between are not, and maybe the Rhoynar weren’t either.

        • Well, when I said European models, I meant the Spanish and Welsh examples Steve mentioned for Dorne specifically. And I admit, I assumed Iberian as well, mostly because the Water Gardens seemed a pretty close match for the Alhambra. Essos on the other hand…i admit Qarth makes no sense to me whatsoever. Why on earth would a city in the middle of a desert be populated by pale, pale white people – they’d all have skin cancer. You’d expect it Bravos, given that it’s northern and most wet (though of course Bravos is a melting pot, so you don’t get the paleness you’d necessarily expect from the climate), but it makes no sense for the more southern parts. In other words, on earth skin colour is an evolutionary adaptation to the likely level of sunlight in a given environment – in ASOIAF it seems to be because GRRM says so.

          And internet discourse has made me well aware that American and European perceptions of race can be quite different – so often I see people I would consider pretty standard Southern Europeans described as ‘brown’ or ethnic, and I realise…well, there’s reason these conversations often end up at cross purposes, because we’re using the same words for different things.

          I mentioned above that the show’s casting was fungible (only not nearly as elegantly as you did), and I tend to think that’s a reflection of a lack of clarity in the books.

          • AzureOwl says:

            At least in the case of the Qaarth, TWOIAF helped account for that discrepancy.

            The Qaathi people, the ancestors of the Qartheen, were originally from what is now the Dothraki Sea, near the Kingdom of Sarnor, with whom they fought numerous wars and were forced to migrate to the vicinity of present day Qarth and the Red Waste, which at the time wasn’t a desert yet.

          • Wadege says:

            I’ve had a bit of a think about Evolutionary adaption of skin colour in Planetos, (something I don’t think George thought about much, if at all, just like with genetics). The Qartheen are kinda explainable in that they used to live in a more northerly climate in the Dothraki sea, and that the red waste only became a desert in the last few hundred years, so you would not expect a transition to brown skin so quickly. The Braavosi migration is also a relatively recent affair (a thousand years ago or perhaps longer?), so you would not expect adaption there either. The wildlings in the far north however, have been living there for perhaps 12 000 years, so wouldn’t you expect at least the populations on the frozen shore to develop bronwer skin like the Inuits?

            Something I want to know is how the Irregular climate cycles would affect evolutionary adaption, (any evolutionary biologists here by chance?), would that accelerate adaption or would irregular seasons prevent efficient selection from taking place? Assuming that the seasons were once in balance and ‘normal’ before the long night/Other shenanigans…

          • Braavos is also a bit of an ongoing melting pot, I think, which would prevent the adaptation happening as quickly – if there’s regular influxes of diversity (in genetic terms, I mean). The Wildlings however do give me pause – the show seems to have gone with an interpretation of them as Nordic, but I’m not entirely sure that makes sense within the climate as presented. And 8,000 years (isn’t that when the Wall was (supposedly built) in isolation would surely be long enough for adaptions to have become noticeable. Even in Scandinavia, I’m fairly sure most of the population is concentrated in the southern parts, not near the permafrost.

            As for your second point…I don’t know nearly enough about human evolution to even guess. It would be interesting to hear speculation from someone knowledgeable. It’s not terribly clear how difficult the winters are – is the North like Russia (so extremely challenging, but survivable), or is it more like intermittent periods of full glaciation (it seems unlikely that the climate could go back and forth that quickly…except for magic) which you’d think would have at least some impact.

    • 1. It’s quite possible that “Dornishness” is something of an outside imposition from their enemies in the Reach and Stormlands who didn’t distinguish between who was raiding them, combined with some element of presentism. On the other hand, the Yronwoods were claiming by the time of Nymeria to be Kings of the Dornish, which suggests some common identity however fictitious.

      2. I think GRRM goes back and forth on this and hasn’t really thought it through in terms of current historiography, art historiography, etc.

  3. Hedrigal says:

    Honestly, the Dornish chapter is the biggest disapointment in the whole book. I really wish wish there was more regional balance in these chapters, because as it stands the Iron Islands and the Reach seem like they get most of the attention with everything else being kind of an afterthought.

    • The Iron Islands in particular seems way more detailed than the rest.

      My hope is that the missing detail is GRRM chopping stuff out b/c he wants to use it for something else and we’ll get it later.

  4. Andrew says:

    1. “Of all the places in Westeros you’d ever want to live, the Dornish seem to have figured out the right approach to life. It’s the one most aligned with what our approach to life would be if we weren’t making this show. It’s our Brazil—we dream of Dorne and the way they do things down there. ”
    That sums up D&D’s approach to Dorne: a projection of their own fantasies, hence the comparison to Brazil. That fits with the Orientalism described by Said.

    2. The early history of House Martell bending the knee to various kings is ironic given their motto: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.

    3. The High King means that the Ironborn weren’t the only ones electing their monarchs.

  5. Murc says:

    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[4]; Dorne was never conquered and turned into an imperial province, and is frequently positioned as economically and technology in advance of the Seven Kingdoms.

    Not only this, but in a political system in which “nation = people” to a large extent, the Dornish and the Rhoynar are not excluded from being considered well within the wider nation of Westerosi peoples.

    The person who sits the Iron Throne is not styled the King of Westeros, or the King of the Seven Kingdoms. They’re the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, but the style, which was presumably deliberately adopted by Aegon Targaryen, is “King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men.” (Emphasis mine.)

    The Rhoynar are given coequal place with the Andals and the First Men, which indicates that they’re considered a legitimate part of the Westerosi state and not some kind on mongrelized southron aberration.

    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).

    This is an enormous fucking problem across this sort of media, especially when it comes to “fantasy” sourcebooks of this nature.

    Art in those books is almost always commissioned, and person after person in the industry have registered the same complaint: if they don’t specify non-white, they have a tendency to get white. When they do specific non-white, they have a tendency to get “white people with mild tans.” When they specify non-caucasian features, they often either get a crude ethnic stereotype or “I don’t know how to draw that, I’m sorry.”

    There’s a TTRPG I’ve been a fan of for many years called Exalted, which recently put out its third edition. The developers are committed to their setting being multi-ethnic and multi-racial, and spoke a bit a couple years ago about how when they were commissioning art for one of their signature characters, a red-headed black woman. And they had to go through like four or five revisions, because the artist in question just either could not or would not get the skin tone right, even when they specifically specified a Wesley Snipes level of blackness.

    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.

    Question; what makes you think the Daynes don’t have their own harbor?

    I mean, they would still probably want Oldtown, which has one of the most magnificent and well-developed harbors in all Westeros, but the seat of House Dayne is literally on an island where a river “broadens to meet the sea.” I would be very surprised if there wasn’t sufficient anchorage there for shipping, just… not massive, wide-scale shipping.

    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).

    There are probably some places to water along the southern coast of Dorne, just not very many. Salt Shore seems a likely place, and the Brimstone is a pretty shitty river but you can probably take on water there. And even if there’s NO place to take on water… Planky Town to Starfall is only like 1100 miles, which isn’t super far in nautical terms; oceangoing ships with the roughly 13th century level of technology we see in the books have made journeys that long and longer without needing to stop and re-water. You top off your casks in Planky Town and maybe you’re simply good all the way around Dorne. The Iron Fleet made it from the Arbor all the way to Volantis without stopping to re-water.

    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:

    A commonality they share with the Iron Islands. With respect to Maester Yandel, I would submit it is the ironborn who were changed the least by the coming of the Andals, who vanished into the existing culture of the Iron Islands like a stone dropped into the sea. At least in Dorne the aristocracy seemed to become thoroughly Andalized and to be worshipers of the Seven.

    Sidebar: some information on how the worship of the Old Gods, which the First Men supposedly adopted continent-wide, worked in Dorne would have been really nice in this section. Weirwoods… do not really grow in the desert, or by oases. They might grow in the mountains. How did this work? How was it supplanted by the Seven?

    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:


    I’m not following your logic here, Steven. Dorne is thinly-peopled because there isn’t much land available for settlement. This would seem to exacerbate conflict over the available good land, not diminish it.

    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.

    Well, I mean. It’s Planetos. Home to multiple family lines and institutions of such ancient lineage that they would look at the Papacy or the Yamato dynasty and go “awww, you kids. You’re so cute.” To an extent you gotta just accept some of that.

    For the Martells… it’s easy to be bold when you’re a freebooting warlord whose authority and wealth is largely measured by your strength of personality and your ability to weld together a bunch of other freebooters under your leadership. You’ve got a ton to gain and little to lose.

    You might suddenly turn cautious, and inculcate that caution in your heirs, when you make good and carve out your own petty-kingdom that otherwise might carve away from you. And you’ll note that Morgan Martell descended on lands “loosely held;” that is, he deliberately searched out a soft target.

    • 1. True, although there was a bit of contestation on that, as we see with Aegon IV and the first Blackfyre Rebellion.
      2. It’s a phenomenon across genre media in general I would say; take comics for an example. (https://thenib.com/lighten-up-4f7f96ca8a7)
      3. Mostly because the Torrentine is an extremely vertiginous river: “The Torrentine, arising high in the western mountains, plunges down to the sea in a series of rapids and waterfalls, howling through canyons and crevasses with a sound like the roar of some great beast. Rising from mountain springs, its waters are sweet and pure, but dangerous to cross, save by bridge, and impossible to navigate.”
      4. Yeah, probably you’re right, as long as things go well. But man, if something goes wrong, you are in trouble.
      5. True, the Ironborn don’t have much Andal influence in the, probably because of the limited population transfer. And yes, agreed I have no idea what Dornish First Men religion looked like.
      6. While that’s true, the book states that the Andal houses we know “established themselves in places where no man had gone before them.Amongst those were the Ullers and the Qorgyles… Farther east, the Vaiths…Elsewhere in the realm, the Allyrions, the Jordaynes, and the Santagars carved out holdings for themselves.”
      7. If that’s the case, I need reasons why.

  6. Abbey Battle says:

    Could the usual custom of those traders sailing past the coast of Dorne be to bring along tender vessels dedicated to storing enough food & water for a moderately long voyage without much hope for a safe harbour? (possibly taking them in tow).

    An alternative might be to arrange in advance for food & water to be deposited at certain locations and have them rowed out on ships light enough to beach without being stranded while the major trade vessels wait at anchor.

  7. Abbey Battle says:

    By the way, please accept my compliments on making a splendid beginning to what promises to be a most interesting article Maester Steven! (by the way, my pet theory regarding the unusual alignment against the Corpse-Maker is that he was quite simply the most appalling neighbour and panicked those nearest him into making common cause: it is also far from impossible that one or more of those kings might have been a rival Andal Warlord looking to settle old grudges or simply prevent old Drox from horning in on his action).

  8. KrimzonStriker says:

    I think your analysis just goes to further my point about the Andal invasion of Dorne being less of a concern then an aggresive Andal conqueror nearby in the Stormlands like Drox at the river Slayne. To read the Andal migration of Drone they never actually penetrate past the desert into the Red Mountains and thus threaten the Stony Dornish Kings, whereas Drox could have very easily have marched down to the Boneway at some point.

    • That’s not quite accurate: “And so it was with the Andals who made their way to Dorne. Some contested with the First Men who had come before them for the choice lands along the Greenblood and the coasts, or ventured into the mountains.”

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Ventured is one thing but if my memory serves we know of no Andal houses in the Red Mountains, at least not prominent ones anyway. Likely some also offered their services and became bannermen and household knights etc but I get the distinct impression they wete never much of a threat to contest control from the Stony Dornish.

  9. artihcus022 says:

    I am amazed at you Steven for not taking the big smoking gun of Orientalism vis-a-vis Dorne. Namely, Areo Hotah 1 in AFFC, our first POV chapter set in Dorne, and its narrated from a non-Dornish POV:

    ””Dorne had seemed a queer place to him as well when first he came here with his own princess, many years ago. The bearded priests had drilled him on the Common Speech of Westeros before they sent him forth, but the Dornishmen all spoke too quickly for him to understand. Dornish women were lewd, Dornish wine was sour, and Dornish food was full of queer hot spices. And the Dornish sun was hotter than the pale, wan sun of Norvos, glaring down from a blue sky day after day.”

    The joke is that Areo Hotah is not only non-Dornish, he is non-Westerosi. He is in fact the first Essosi POV in ASOIAF (Melisandre is the second) and his viewpoint also has the Orientalist stereotypes.

    Aside from that great first entry, I am really looking forward to the Targaryen wars…and yes, I certainly wouldn’t call the Dornish democratic, populist is more exact.

  10. Lucerys says:

    I think you’re probably right but I also think this question should be asked: WOIAF is presented as Westerosi literature written by a maester. Could it be that this section (as well as most of Essos) was purposely written like this to show that the maesters are of orientalist persuasion.

    • Hedrigal says:

      I would say thats a really bad way to justify lazy writing, and if thats the point then its a really wasteful way to treat a worldbook.

  11. Sean C. says:

    One aspect of Dorne’s history that I find seriously under-explained is how Dorne was able to remain a collection of factious kingdoms until the arrival of Nymeria, given that it was alongside the much larger and more unified polities of the Reach and the Stormlands for thousands of years. You would expect that the Gardeners and the Durrandons would have gradually extended influence inward by supporting, say, the Fowlers against the Daynes or the Yronwoods against their rivals, and brought the border states into their orbits. And none of the much smaller Dornish kings would have had anything like the manpower of Highgarden or Storm’s End.

    • Not worth the trouble of conquering, maybe? You don’t want them getting too big for their britches of course, but at the same time, if you’re going to expend your resources conquering land, wouldn’t you aim for your wealthier neighbours? They all have more arable land, and also less…fractious populations, so isn’t that where you’d aim first? And the Dornish may well have cultivated a particularly bloodthirsty reputation for exactly that reason. Their independence may be the result of being a comparatively small fish – though I would expect that to have changed after Nymeria.

      • Sean C. says:

        I could see that as an argument for why they didn’t extend their dominion over the deserts and to the southeastern coastal region/the delta of the Greenblood, but not for the Red Mountains, which are of a piece with lands the Durrandons and Gardeners already hold in the Marches. And we know there were constant border wars in that area. Highgarden and Storm’s End would have had every reason to subdue the region from Starfall to Yronwood.

  12. […] in Part I, there was a crippling lack of information about the history of Dorne, with the arrival of Nymeria […]

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