Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion V, ASOS

“A wrong word, an ill-timed jest, a look, that’s all it will take, and our noble allies will be at one another’s throats.”

Synopsis: Tyrion meets Oberyn Martell

SPOILER WARNING: This chapter analysis, and all following, will contain spoilers for all Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones episodes. Caveat lector.

83 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion V, ASOS

  1. Poor Quentyn says:

    I had never picked up on how Oberyn seeds his later, more explicit alliance pitch to Tyrion here, great job!

    Not to draw eternally from the same well, but I think the only time GRRM successfully recreated the Oberyn archetype was Euron–a version of Oberyn who followed the “arts darker still” over the edge from an early age, and came home from his eastern adventures not to find justice for his family, but to continue preying on them.

    On reread, the Dornish banners spell out a lot of what’s to come in the Dorne subplot(s). You got the scorpion Oberyn will later frame as representative of Dornish resistance and independence; you got the crowned skull looking back to Elia and her children, but also forward to Tommen and Myrcella (as does the baby-eating vulture); you got the flames of Hellholt, awaiting first Quentyn and then Arianne. GRRM lays out the Dornish story in imagery and so ends it with a signature: a quill and an author’s name. Love it.

    • jedimaesteryoda says:

      I never picked up on the banners before, good catch.

      “A pie with red and black slices,” said Bronn. “There’s a gold hand in the middle.”

      Red and black being the colors of Houses Targaryen and Blackfyre, who will divide the pie or kingdom in the second Dance with Tyrion in the middle (the gold hand being a reference to the chain of office he wore as Hand of the King and likely will again as Danu’s Hand.)

      “The Gargalens of Salt Shore. A cockatrice. Ser. Pardon. Not a chicken. Red, with a black snake in its beak.”

      The black snake (a reference to the sigil of House Blackfyre) eaten by a red cockatrice (a reference to the red dragon of House Targaryen) referring to Aegon’s likely defeat in the second Dance.

    • Murc says:

      Not to draw eternally from the same well, but I think the only time GRRM successfully recreated the Oberyn archetype was Euron

      No love for Bloodraven?

      I think an important aspect of this is that Euron and Oberyn are both mature, accomplished individuals who have a lot of street cred behind them. They’re both middle-aged, but still hale, and have a laundry list of great and/or terrible actions to their credit. Even if Euron is lying about some of his shit, the lies themselves have a kind of impressive grandeur about them. And they’re both introduced in ways that highlight their power and, to be blunt, their exoticism; neither of them work as well as they do without that whiff of the mysterious east about them.

      Darkstar doesn’t have this. The most impressive things we’ve ever heard about or seen Darkstar doing are being hot, intimidating his peer group (a not terribly impressive group of dilettantes) and mutilating a child.

      Daemon Blackfyre is more impressive, and older, but he doesn’t do much but stand around being buff and inflaming the ressentiment of his fellow nobles, and he was always going to compare poorly in the heads of the readership with Daeron the Good to begin with.

      It isn’t that Martin is incapable of presenting us with very young people who are impressively badass and intimidating in a quasi-romantic way; Jon Snow in full Lord Commander mode, taking heads in the yard of Castle Black, fits a certain flavor of that archetype. Daenerys has her moments as well. But those people all EARNED it. They didn’t just parachute in.

      • This is a good point, the age is important with both characters.

        On the other hand, Daemon *Targaryen,* the Rogue Prince himself, is older but despite all his on paper antics, I’m just way less impressed with him.

        • Manuel S says:

          TBF, Daemon the Rogue Prince can’t impress as much without having the proper POV portrayal as opposed to the Maester’s chronicle, which applies to pretty much all backstory characters that don’t appear in the Tales of D&E.

        • Murc says:

          The Rogue Prince was a shiftless lout in ways that neither Oberyn or Euron are.

          Like, Daemon Targaryen was personally quite brave and he had a decent knack for leading men when he put his mind to it… but Daemon was a lazy asshole who dreamed big but had no follow-through. Oberyn lived hugely and voraciously, but he was also driven and focused; if he had set out to conquer the Stepstones, he’d have had a solid plan with a lot of follow-through. Conversely, can you imagine Daemon forging even ONE link of a maester’s chain, let alone six? Sure, they say Oberyn got “bored” but it seems more likely he just decided his education was finished. Daemon likely would have gotten ACTUALLY bored and wandered off halfway through the first lecture.

          And Euron, of course, has his own catastrophic plan he’s been VERY focused on.

          I guess you can’t just be a rogueish asshole who kicks ass, you need a baseline level of competence in other areas and some kind of discernible code of honor and loyalty, even if its a black and twisted one.

          • ED says:

            I suppose that Prince Oberyn benefitted from being (at least in mine own Mind’s Eye) played by Señor Antonio Banderas even before Señor Pedro Pascal made him his own; I’d bet cash money more than one reader sees Euron Greyjoy as Mr Mads Mikkelsen to boot, which doubtless explains that character’s mysterious appeal (quite frankly I don’t get it, but my favourite characters in TREASURE ISLAND are not the pirates, which tells you something about my attitude to the breed).

            How is Prince Daemon Targaryen supposed to challenge that sort of movie magic mojo? (Honestly, the only actors I tend to picture for the Rogue Prince are Mr Paul Bettany or Mr Guy Pierce, which probably says something about my attitude to the character).

    • lluewhyn says:

      Darkstar is set up so comically it’s a wonder that it wasn’t intentional.
      1. His nickname, and claim to be “Of the Night”
      2. He whines about how Arthur is the only Dayne people remember, which screams insecure teenager.
      3. Everyone in Arianne’s posse is fairly juvenile, so guilt by association.

      Attacking Myrcella (and failing) is just the cherry on top the failed wannabe badass.

      Waymer Royce left a better impression.

      • Manuel S says:

        It’s that time of the year where I have to point out that “I am of the night”, in context, wasn’t nearly as campy as people who are already prejudiced against the Dornish AFFC storyline make it out to be. Arthur was the “Sword of the Morning”, so he explicitly tries to steer clear from his shadow by calling himself “sword of the night”. That’s all.

        Agree with the rest of your comment though. He *fails* at killing a little girl, he *is* insecure and Arianne’s fellowship is indeed poor at doing conspiracy.

    • ioanneskomnenos says:

      May I add that the Uller is a personal favourite of mine. With their Faustian fortress coming as if a scene from a play, their half-mad lords that like torture etc. Tempermentally this is the house closest to the Boltons, at least in Dorne.

    • lluewhyn says:

      It’s a slight variation, but I think GRRM was successful (at least to me) in recreating a variation of the character in Rodrik the Reader, and despite the well-deserved name is extremely politically savvy and wise in the world.

      Although I guess in Troper terms Oberyn is more the Genius Bruiser to Rodrik’s Badass Bookworm.

    • Thanks very much!

      I don’t know if I’d quite say GRRM recreated the Oberyn archetype from Euron – as you point out in your Theon I episode, Euron and his Silence are lurking there in the dark corners of Theon’s mind pretty early in ACOK, a book and a half before Oberyn takes tot he page.

      Yes. One of the things that is distinctive about Dornish heraldry compared to some of the other kingdoms is how frequently it speaks to plot, themes, and direct links to Dornish history, whereas elsewhere you get a lot more incidental imagery, abstract imagery, or injokes.

    • Tess says:

      Wait does Arianne die??

  2. jedimaesteryoda says:

    1. “You shrieked, but it was only when your brother Jaime said, ‘Leave him be, you’re hurting him’, that Cersei let go of you. ‘It doesn’t matter’, she told us. ‘Everyone says he’s like to die soon. He shouldn’t even have lived this long.’ ”

    Another detail in Oberyn’s story: Cersei didn’t stop physically abusing Tyrion until Jaime told her to stop. Jaime also demonstrated to be the only one in the family who genuinely cared for Tyrion in that story. Also, potential foreshadowing for Jaime having Tyrion escape their sister’s wrath.

    2. It can safely said that the Sand Snakes represent different aspects of their father: Obara the warrior aspect with the spear, Tyene the poisoner aspect, and Sarella the intellectual aspect by studying at the Citadel. The ones with the more martial aspects will likely follow him to the grave.

    3. “How many Dornishmen does it take to shoe a horse? Nine. One to do the shoeing, and eight to lift the horse up. Somehow Tyrion did not think Doran Martell would find that amusing.
    . . .
    ‘How many banners do you count?’ he asked Bronn.
    The sellsword knight shaded his eyes. ‘Eight . . . no, nine.'”

    I guess the one who does the shoeing is House Martell, and the other houses do the lifting for whichever horse or candidate for IT/war the Martells back.

    4. “How many Dornishmen does it take to start a war? he asked himself. Only one”

    Dany will learn that the hard way.

    5. Another what-if, what if Doran sent Quentyn instead of Oberyn to King’s Landing?

    • Captain Splendid says:

      “what if Doran sent Quentyn instead of Oberyn”

      You know, I’ll be the first in line to clown on Doran for his willingness to keep playing Cyvasse while everybody else is playing speed checkers, but he’s not _that_ dumb.

      • jedimaesteryoda says:

        Quentyn would have done better in KL than Meereen just as Oberyn would have done better in Meereen than KL. He was made more for court life, and he is noted to be pretty unassuming, and wouldn’t draw unwanted attention. He likely would have gotten along better with the Tyrells than Oberyn given he lacks the enimity over what happened to Willas Tyrell.

        • Murc says:

          He likely would have gotten along better with the Tyrells than Oberyn given he lacks the enimity over what happened to Willas Tyrell.

          Is that really doing better in this context, though?

          Like… Doran isn’t sending a delegation to claim Dorne’s seat on the small council to productively participate in the governance of the realm. He’s sending someone to try and implode it. You don’t want someone to get along with the Tyrells, you want someone to inflame them.

        • Better than dead is a bit of a low bar, tho.

    • Manuel S says:

      You forgot Nym playing the “wanton” or “decadent” aspect of his father.

      • jedimaesteryoda says:

        Yeah, I did consider that, but I think the chances are the other adult Sand Snakes aren’t virgins either (with the possible exception of Sarella). Tyene herself tried to ride the tricycle with her cousin Arianne and Drey.

    • 1. Yeah, it ties very well into the “I am loved by one for a kindness I never did” thing.

      2. I think that’s what makes them somewhat less interesting as individuals, because each of them has their one thing, whereas Oberyn has many things.

      3. I didn’t notice that with the numbers.

      4. Well, him and his sister.

      5. I find that a bit unlikely, given how green Quentyn is.

      • jedimaesteryoda says:

        2. Well, Sarella has more than just the one thing. She has her father’s intellectual side, and studies at the Citadel, but she is also a skilled archer.

        • Meereenese Liberation Front says:

          I am less bothered than others by how one-dimensional most of the Sand Snakes are (they are tertiary characters whose main function it is to move the plot, and their over-the-topness can be quite amusing), but Sarella is easily the most interesting and fleshed-out member of the bunch, the only one who is actually a compelling character in her own right.

          • JG says:

            Yeah, Sarella is the only one that really interests me because she feels more like a fleshed-out character and not a meme.

  3. Tywin of the Hill says:

    Great essay.
    1. “Tyrion initially interprets Oberyn’s story as mockery when it’s meant to be an expression of empathy and recognition of a mutual humanity.”
    How empathetic would you see a story that starts with “You were even smaller than you are now.”
    2. Another thing to note is that Oberyn seems to contain his revenge towards the people actually responsible for Elia’s murder, like Tywin and the Mountain, and leaves Tywin’s children and grandchildren out of it. His daughters will not show the same restraint.

    • jedimaesteryoda says:

      2. The loss of his niece and nephew likely solidified his aversion to killing children so he likely wouldn’t be on board with Tommen and Myrcella being murdered. As to Jaime and Cersei, he likely would expect Jaime to die given he did murder Aerys, and no Targaryen monarch would let their father’s killer off the hook. As to Cersei, she never did anything up to that point to harm House Martell, so her fate was up in the air.

      His daughters seemed to have missed that even his vengeance could be measured.

    • 1. I’m not saying Tyrion doesn’t have a reason that he misinterprets the story – Oberyn is being really backhanded, because at the end of the day Tyrion is still a Lannister – but he’s usually better at reading the subtext. Compare how he does here to how he does with Varys at the beginning of ACOK, for ex.

      2. Good point.

  4. Captain Splendid says:

    I wonder how much Oberyn’s thorough introduction is a function of the fact that he’s going to die in the same book he’s introduced in.

  5. lluewhyn says:

    “one of the enduring mysteries of ASOIAF is how Oberyn Martell’s plans in ASOS track with Doran Martell’s master plan and serpent-and-grass metaphor which implied a great deal of coordination between the brothers, both of which come at the end of AFFC.”

    This has baffled me as well, since Doran also plainly says that Oberyn got himself killed fighting in a duel that didn’t concern him. Even if Oberyn had won, which only required an inch’s worth more caution, the Dornish at KL would have become even more persona non grata, which means little ability to witness or influence events there.

    • Yeah, that’s something I struggle with a lot.

    • Keith B says:

      Doran’s instructions to Oberyn:

      ‘Take the measure of this boy king and his council, and make note of their strengths and weaknesses,’ I told him, on the terrace. We were eating oranges. ‘Find us friends, if there are any to be found. Learn what you can of Elia’s end, but see that you do not provoke Lord Tywin unduly,’ those were my words to him.

      The simple answer is that up until the duel, Oberyn was doing exactly what Doran asked him (in his own style, of course). An assignment of this nature requires a high degree of discretionary judgement. That’s why Doran could only entrust it to a high level person like his brother. Oberyn saw an opportunity to do real damage to the Lannister regime, and he took it. It was risky, but Oberyn had a lot of confidence in his abilities. As it turned out, Oberyn succeeded in damaging the Lannister cause even though he lost.

  6. Murc says:

    Where GRRM at least tempered his Orientalism by paying attention to Dorne’s particular culture and history, I don’t think Benioff and Weiss ever understood that Dorne existed as something more than “sexy and violent” – ultimately leading to the trainwreck that was the Dornish plotline in Season 5 and beyond.

    I’m sure many of the readers here will have seen, but Benioff and Weiss recently gave a panel discussion in which they cheerfully and candidly admitted to all kinds of writing and directorial malpractice.

    In particular, when HBO asked them to assemble a writer’s room, their response to that was… to get one of their production assistants to write a couple episodes. The entire show was basically just them and them alone, which is NOT regarded as best practice even on shows with experienced, well-balanced showrunners at their helm.

    • lluewhyn says:

      Which if nothing else*, would lead to quicker burnout and wanting to wrap the series up more quickly and carelessly to move on to some other project, something maybe 1 or 2 people have accused them of doing.

      *Being charitable here

    • Whoof, yeah, that was not a good look at all.

      • Murc says:

        In my opinion, the 21st century has so far produced two televised fantasy epics that are both genre classics and immensely culturally significant: one is Game of Thrones, and the other is Avatar: The Last Airbender.

        ATLA was the brainchild of two men, the showrunners, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. But if you track the writing credits of the series, you’ll note that they did not personally write all or even most of the episodes; instead they had a remarkably consistent writers room, many of whose members they will admit talked them out of some of their worst ideas and into some of their best ones, even as they maintained overall control of the show.

        And that writers room went on to do other important work; Tim Hedrick helmed Voltron: Legendary Defender, which, despite its creative shortcomings, was such an immense success that it is more or less single-handedly responsible for Netflix going hard into animation; without Voltron airing, She-Ra probably doesn’t exist. Aaron Ehasz, widely credited as the best writer for ATLA, is currently doing The Dragon Prince.

        Contrast this with Game of Thrones. Not expanding their writing bench probably overextended both showrunners, and it trapped them in a bottle of their own creation where all they did was bite their own tails and marinate in their own worst tendencies endlessly. It also ensured the show wouldn’t have a long creative legacy in terms of its creative writing talent going on to do other things.

        It’s really sad.

        • Emma says:

          One other thing about Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko is that they solely wrote the Avatar sequel ‘Legend of Korra’ and it really showed how bad they are at writing without Tim Hedrick and Aaron Ehasz – unlikeable characters who didn’t really develop, plots that dragged unnecessarily and forced romances that were used to mock shippers.

  7. Rando; says:

    “Second, Cersei’s sadism stands very much at the forefront… because of the prophecy”

    Unless GRRM screwed up ages, cannot be:
    1. Cersei was noted to be ~8 when Tyrion was born
    2. IIRC, she was ~10 when she got the prophecy.

    (please, get posted this time)

  8. Keith B says:

    Prince Doran may have wanted to send a message of Dornish unity, but there were a couple of highly significant omissions that undermined his intention. The Yronwoods weren’t represented and neither were the Daynes. Yronwood was the more significant, as it was the second most powerful house in Dorne and a potential challenger to the Martells for supremacy. Of course we know that the Lord of Starfall wasn’t in Dorne, but presumably Tyrion doesn’t know that. It’s curious that he doesn’t reflect on who wasn’t there, since the lack of Yronwood in particular might have been an opening to counter whatever Doran and Oberyn were planning.

    It’s hard to say what Doran would have done had he been in KL for Tyrion’s trial, but if his thinking had been at all like Oberyn’s he would not have regarded removing Tyrion as “all to the good.” Oberyn had some strong reasons for preserving Tyrion as a potential asset. He was still heir to Casterly Rock and thus in line to be lord of the Westerlands should anything happen to Tywin, but as Oberyn makes explicitly clear, he was also married to Sansa Stark, who as far as anyone knew was heiress to the North, and even had a claim to the Trident if Edmure remained childless. In other words, if Tyrion could be turned against his family, he might be the key to a very powerful alliance against the Lannister regime. Even if Oberyn hadn’t been nursing a personal grievance against Gregor Clegane, he wouldn’t have wanted to throw Tyrion away.

    • Well, the Daynes are problematic: Edric is serving an attainted traitor and Allyria is betrothed to the same, and there aren’t a lot of spare Daynes going on.

      As for the Yronwoods, that may be because Cletus was due to go east instead.

      • Keith B says:

        Cletus may already have gone east, but Anders was still available. The point is not that Yronwood’s loyalty was actually questionable; since Quentyn was close friends with both Cletus and Archibald, and probably would have married Gwyneth if he hadn’t been sent off to propose to Daenerys, the Martells could be confident of Yronwood’s support. What’s involved is the impression Doran wanted to make and what Tyrion would or should have inferred from it. If Doran wanted to make a big show of Dornish solidarity, including Yronwood should have been a must. And Tyrion, instead of merely being impressed by Oberyn’s entourage, might have taken a moment to wonder if it meant something that Yronwood, Dayne and Fowler were not there.

        Edric Dayne was still with the Brotherhood and obviously wasn’t available. But did Tyrion know that? I’m not sure if anyone even in Dorne had any idea where he was. He had fallen off the map almost as completely as Arya.

        Quentyn’s journey was probably under way even before Oberyn left Dorne. They had a long way to go, and there isn’t a huge time span in the books between the current point of ASOS and the end of ADWD. Doran may have found out about Daenerys before anyone else in Westeros other than Varys. He had good sources of intelligence, and Dorne was closer to Slaver’s Bay than the other provinces. It’s likely he consulted with his brother, and both Oberyn’s mission and Quentyn’s were part of the same plan.

        • JG says:

          Doran needed Anders to marshal forces at the Boneway. Also it was probably better just to keep them out of sight, out of mind given their prominent involvement in the Targ restoration plot.

  9. Showberyn says:

    You can’t seriously be telling me that Oberyn “Lives at a brothel” Martell was a good portrayal? It was such an exaggerated caricature and one of the show early warning signs that the showrunners had a really bad read of the source material.

    • Manuel S says:

      Come on, let Attewell’s fondness for the show’s early episodes in peace. LOL

      A lot of us gave GoT the benefit of the doubt up to season 4 or 3. I guess for him, those episodes still have rewatch value. For me they don’t anymore, but to each their own.

    • I won’t say all the brothel scenes were good, but they weren’t all bad either. (Also, let’s not pretend that we don’t have elements of caricature in this chapter, what with the dying with a breast in his hand, and all that.) “Half the world’s pleasure” meant a lot to people I know.

      But specifically, his speech to Tyrion where he offers himself as Tyrion’s champion is damn good.

  10. Note, another one of Joffrey’s other Dornish jokes that he picked up from the Reachmen, mentioned in this chapter, is “how does a Dornishman differ from a cowflop”. Unlike the horseshoeing joke, where the punchline is basically “lol Dornishmen are stupid”, this one is overtly racist based on skin color. (The punchline to similar racist jokes is “when the sh-t gets old, it turns white and stops stinking.”) Which puts the lie to those who claim the Reach’s animosity to Dorne is purely based on their history of conflict and nothing else…

  11. Manuel S says:

    Thanks for the new entry Steven! I thought it would be another record-breaker in terms of length, but indeed, not much happens beside Oberyn’s grand entrance.

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Tyrion’s final quip about Oberyn being in a hostile city. Was it another case of Tyrion’s temperament getting the better of him, or had Oberyn tossed enough “Lannister vendetta” threats so as to make one by his counterpart unremarkable anyway?

  12. Robert Homan says:

    This is not fully related to the Chapter but I thought this would be a solid place to weigh in on the “Oberyn poisoned Tywin” Theory.

    I don’t think he did because I feel the circumstances surrounding Tywin’s death (constipated on the toilet) and corpse (the terrible stink) were chosen for symbolic reasons rather than grand manipulations. Tywin’s death was done to set up a literal “Tywin Lannister was full of shit”. The entire mythology of Tywin Lannister is complete shit and I believe the huge stink raised by his body was to show how rotten to the core he and his legacy were.

    Non-symbolically, I personally believe that the reason his corpse stank so much was the fact that the Silent Sisters tending to it purposefully botched the job. Later in the same book (AFFC), Genna Lannister tells Jaime that a few Reyne/Tarbeck women survived the slaughter of Castemere and were given to the Silent Sisters. I believe those same women were given Tywin’s corpse to treat and decided to give it the care it deserved. The fact that Jaime suggests to Tytos Blackwood that wiping out rival houses will solve all your problems seems reenforces my belief in this, as those defeated houses (Stark, Baratheon, Targaryen, Tully) all seem to be causing problems for the Lannister’s and their allies.

    • Robert Homan says:

      Also, I think if Tywin was poisoned (see the constipation), Varys did it. This would have been around the time he would need to get rid of Tywin (Stannis, Robb and Tyrion are diminished, dead and condemned), Dorne and the Golden Company should be ready to mobilize and Oberyn would be a convenient scapegoat for Cersei (he had motive, opportunity, knowledge of poison, and an inability to prove his innocence). Tyrion gave him an alternate opportunity to deal with Tywin, but that was more lucky than planned. I just think this fits Varys’s motives (work in the shadows, kill key players when stability is at hand, have a patsy to blame) more than Oberyn’s. I still think its likely that GRRM just really wanted Tywin’s death to be a literal and symbolic shit joke though.

    • lluewhyn says:

      I’m also not a big fan of this theory, but I’ll agree that GRRM keeps mentioning specific things about Oberyn/Tywin and then later the stink (over and over again) that get a little into Conservation of Detail/Chekhov’s Gun.

      Here’s why I’m not a big fan (not saying necessarily that it’s not GRRM’s intention for this theory to be correct, just that I don’t like the circumstances around the theory/plotline):

      1. It’s an Easter Egg that really doesn’t change or explain much.
      2. Tyrion’s remark pointing out the oddity of Tywin, Mace, and Oberyn meeting tells me “What on earth could these potential adversaries be having a meal and talking about?” is the meaning behind Tyrion’s confusion. The theory pretty much says, “Eh, doesn’t matter WHY they were talking, it’s just an excuse for Oberyn to be in proximity to poison Tywin”.
      3. How exactly would Oberyn poison Tywin anyway, since he’s a guest being waited on by servants, and a distrusted and carefully watched guest at that? It would be like Robb trying to poison Walter Frey at the Red Wedding.
      4. Speaking of, this act would put Oberyn at the same level as the Freys, poisoning the host who is serving him food.
      5. It somewhat invalidates Tyrion’s actions. All he had to do was nothing and Tywin would have died anyway, and he suffered all of that guilt and mental trauma for nothing.
      6. Tywin shows no signs of illness prior to being killed. Weird also how some proponents of the theory claim that “Tyrion knew where to find his father” meant that Tyrion knew his father was poisoned with this particular malady. What? It seems more likely to me that Tyrion knew his father was always full of shit (literally), and had trouble relaxing enough to release his bowels.
      7. How does a tiny amount of poison cause the entire body to start stinking after death when there is no blood flowing to move the poison around? Especially after Pycelle and the Silent Sisters basically scoop out all of his innards, IIRC, and he still stinks to high heaven?

    • I’ll address the theory when it comes along, but it’s the kind of theory I don’t mind so much, because it doesn’t hugely change things whether it’s true or not – after all, the symbolism works either way.

      I do like the idea of the Silent Sisters botching the job as a form of silent protest, given how implicated the Lannisters are in violence direct against the clergy, which is a nice thematic link to the rise of the Sparrow movement.

  13. Emma says:

    Another brilliant chapter analysis – you did the introduction of Oberyn Martell justice and I look forward to when you do the Red Viper vs Mountain duel

  14. Lucerys says:

    I think that while Doran and Oberyn worked closely together with Doran in charge I doubt Doran had complete control over Oberyn. Likely Oberyn decided he wanted to go King’s Landing when he heard that Justice for Elia was being offered and Doran, knowing he could not change his mind, worked it into his plan.

  15. artihcus022 says:

    Characterization is very tricky and almost always wonky. But the ultimate truth is “there are no small parts only small actors” i.e. it’s not how much page-time/screen-time or how much delay before you appear that counts…but it’s how that moment lines up. Take Lando Calrissian. He appears in basically the third half of Empire Strikes Back. Has no buildup but suddenly thanks to Billy Dee Williams’ performance and chemistry he quickly becomes the fourth musketeer. I think Oberyn is similar to that. And Oberyn as a character clearly travels, look at what it did for Pedro Pascal, it’s made him a real star and he’s now headlining The Mandalorian.

    In Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood is a comparable phenomenon. She appears in Book 5 of a seven book series well after most of the key supporting players and expanded cast have been soldified and yet suddenly she was such a delight and original character that she took over and became one of the famous characters in that series, and Evanna Lynch’s performance on screen traveled as well. I actually think any large franchise and fantasy needs to have that depth and it’s to the strength of the overall series.

    • Oberyn as the Lando of ASOIAF…yeah, I could buy that.

      So who’s the Boba Fett?

      • artihcus022 says:

        Bronn is who Boba Fett wishes he was. But in actual narrative terms, i.e. preening, self-parading badass who’s doomed to be food for the Sarlacc, probably Victarion. And also Darkstar for that matter. Lucas intended Boba Fett as a joke villain but the fans latched on to him to his bemusement.

        Bloodraven is Yoda…albeit a Yoda who is guilty of Luke Skywalker’s flaws, “All his life has he looked away, to the horizon, to the future, never his mind on where he was, what he was doing”.

  16. Ser Erik, the Guilty Undertaker says:

    Oberyn as “Captain Dorne” is a very good observation. It’s an image that he clearly means to cultivate, but it’s also just that: an image, and one we see repeatedly undercut. We hear about him crippling Willas Tyrell, only for it to be revealed that it was an accident, caused in large part by Mace being Mace, and that Willas himself bears Oberyn no ill will. We learn he’s fathered 8 bastards, but 4 of them were with the same woman, his wife in all but name. He also seems to genuinely love all his children, though his way of showing it isn’t always healthy (spear or tears? Seriously?). Indeed, Oberyn’s main redeeming quality is that he genuinely loves his family and is loved by them in return. Besides his fight with Gregor, which is part of a socially sanctioned ritual, we never actually see Oberyn do violence. Tyrion might be annoyed by his presence, but Tywin and Mace both seem to see him as someone they can work with. Despite appearances, Oberyn and Doran actually have a lot more in common than it appears at a glance, for good and ill.

    The “Salty, Sandy, Stony” distinction is interesting in that, while it seems to taken as fact in universe, and canon in much of the fandom, it’s an observation made by Daeron I (not Dornish) and repeated by Tyrion (also not Dornish). At no point has an actual Dornish person described themselves in such terms. It appears to be a projection by outsiders.

    • Thanks very much! I really liked the line when it popped into my head.

      You raise a good point re: “dornia est divisa in partes tres,” although we do see hints of that with the longstanding Yronwood/Martell feud.

  17. Oh, btw, black horses with red manes and tails are not actually Lisa Frank fantasy — it’s not uncommon for Friesians by the end of the summer, if their owners let them get sun-bleached. (Google image search “firetail friesians”.) Probably it’s prevalent enough in sunny Dorne (for the sandsteed expy of Friesians) that they actually encourage it, for the aesthetic.

  18. Meereenese Liberation Front says:

    Late for the party, and with two questions only loosely related to this particular chapter and more to Dornish politics in general:

    1. In ADWD, Doran mentions ‘Dorne still has friends at court,’ informers who warned him about Cersei’s plot to kill Trystane. We know it’s not Varys (Doran sees him as a threat), but it’s got to be someone pretty close to Cersei to be able to find out. The only name I can come up with is Taena Merryweather – but why would she have reason to work for Dorne? Any other candidates that fit the bill?

    2. I always wonder how in the world Rhaegar managed to publicly legitimize his Lyanna stunt, given that pretty much everybody other than Robert seems to remember him fondly, and not as the monster who started a civil war by eloping with / kidnapping the daughter of a High Lord – and doubly so when it comes to Dorne. Given everything that happened to Elia (getting publicly shamed *twice*, held as a hostage, killed as a consequence of said civil war), one would think the Targaryens should rank high on Doran’s and Oberyn’s hit list, probably second only to the Lannisters – and yet here they are, working for Targaryen restoration, and from what the readers glimpse of their thoughts, there seems to be no trace of any kind of resentment. Rhaegar must have had a hell of a PR department.

  19. JG says:

    I think Daemon Targaryen is an interesting character and not just an Oberyn ripoff.

    Darkstar seems deliberately to be a poor man’s Oberyn, which is a big reason why Arianne likes him.

  20. scarlett45 says:

    I am not able to read the post for some reason- I just see the intro and comments…..

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