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The ruling house of the desert land Dorne. They are mixed with the Rhoynar race, which invaded Dorne under the command of the Warrior-Queen Nymeria. They were the only kingdom of the seven to resist conquest by the Targaryens, instead joining the realm via dynastic marriage; in the meanwhile, there were a number of wars between Dorne and the Reach, and the distrust between House Martell and House Tyrell lasts to this day. They now hold a bitter grudge against House Lannister because, during the first civil war, one of Tywin Lannister's knights raped and murdered their princess, Elia Martell, for the crime of being Rhaegar's wife. Their sigil is the sun and spear.
"Vengeance. Justice. Fire and Blood."
Older brother of Oberyn and Elia and ruling Prince of Dorne. Doran is afflicted by severe gout and is confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk. He has a reputation for being extremely patient and cautious. During A Feast for Crows, Doran reveals to Arianne that he's been secretly plotting to destroy the Lannisters and place the Targaryens on the throne.
- Amicably Divorced: He and his wife are separated because of his treatment of his son Quentyn, but it's indicated that he still cares for her.
- Batman Gambit
- Best Served Cold
- Brains and Brawn: The brains to Oberyn's brawn.
- The Chessmaster: He's been patiently moving his pieces into place for seventeen years.
- Dead Little Sister
- Genius Cripple
- Hidden Depths
- Revenge: His motivation.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: While he doesn't move his pieces as fast as others, he's shown he can be flexible and adapt to the circumstances. Inadvertently, however, half his plans rely on people that seem to be intent on tempting their fate.
As Prince Doran's eldest offspring, Arriane is the heir to House Martell and all of Dorne. She's also unmarried at the age of 23. She believes her crippled father Doran means to pass her over in favor of her younger brother Quentyn, and so plots to secure her own rights. She seduces the Kingsguard knight Arys Oakheart, with a scheme to crown Myrcella and kickstart a war. She fails and he is killed. She is imprisoned in a high tower by her father, who reveals that he has been planning a Batman Gambit to return the Targaryens to power.
- Arranged Marriage: An engagement was arranged between her and Viserys Targaryen by Prince Doran and Ser Willem Darry years before the series. Viserys's "crowning" put an end to it.
- Christmas Cake: Her father intentionally kept it that way so that she could marry Viserys.
- Everything's Better with Princesses
- Femme Fatale
- Ladykiller in Love: Or at least Femme Fatale In Love.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Myrcella wouldn't have lost her ear had it not been for Arianne's rash plan.
- Really Gets Around
- Spanner in the Works: Minor one to Doran's plans. Myrcella losing an ear and with a huge facial scar surely was not part of it.
"You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children."
The younger brother of Prince Doran, Oberyn comes to King's Landing to take up his brother's seat on the small council, and to obtain justice for Princess Elia's murder. He is a fierce and hot-tempered man who has founded his own mercenary company, studied at the Citadel, and fathered many bastard children (all female). When Tyrion is accused of Joffrey's murder, Oberyn volunteers to champion him in a trial by combat, knowing that he will face Gregor Clegane, the rapist and murderer of Elia..
- Anything That Moves: "Oberyn Martell? He has bastards all over Dorne, and beds with boys as well."
- Badass Bookworm: Spent time at the Citadel and forged six links of a maester's chain.
- Bi the Way: The most flagrant example of Dorne's more liberated view of homosexuality. To him, it's not a big deal. To non-Dornish, he's a Depraved Bisexual
- Blade on a Stick: He fights with a poisoned spear at times. Also, when he does an Ogami Itto imitation, he asks a young bastard daughter to choose between him and the girl's mother (a prostitute) by pointing to her choices: a spear, or the girl's crying mother. When she chooses the spear, he says: "I told you she was my daughter".
- Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Doran's Brains. Doran says that Oberyn is a snake, and Doran is the grass that hides the snake until the right time to strike.
- Combat Pragmatist: He poisons his weapons and has no qualms against fighting dirty. Unfortunately, he forgets to be pragmatic when it really counts.
- Dead Older Sister: His motivation.
- Depraved Bisexual: Most of the other nobles of Westeros view him this way, as a combination of his crippling of the heir to Highgarden, his frequent use of poisons in battle and, well, just see the first trope for the write-up. He's just quite loose for the general setting.
- Genius Bruiser: Oberyn is a noted warrior as well as a former student of the Citadel.
- Heel Face Turn: At first, Oberyn is an arrogant Jerkass who makes fun of Tyrion. However, he makes a turn for the better when he decides to champion Tyrion in the trial by combat.
- Jerkass: He poisons his weapons. Also, his behavior to Tyrion was very haughty and bullying at first.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Normally, the type of slow, horrifying death he inflicts via manticore poison would be either a Kick the Dog or Moral Event Horizon, but when the person you do this to is Gregor Clegane, who In-Universe is known for being a Complete Monster who killed Oberyn's niece and nephew and raped his sister before he killed her it's this instead.
- My Girl Is a Slut: Oberyn loves this trope.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya
- Pet the Dog: Does this on a few occasions, most notably by championing Tyrion, voicing regret for accidentally injuring Willas Tyrell in a jousting match (and revealing that the two are friendly and regularly correspond despite the hatred between Houses Martell and Tyrell) and expressing a sense of guilt over turning Elia against one of her other suitors, because this led her to marry Rhaegar instead, and we all know how that turned out...
- Poisoned Weapons: He frequently employs them, as Gregor Clegane discovers.
- Really Gets Around: He's never been married, so he has no trueborn children, just eight baseborn daughters by five different women, known collectively as The Sand Snakes. However, it's implied by other characters that he loves them as much as any father would. He does have a "paramour," Ellaria Sand, but as far as can be known she never stopped him from having sex with other people.
- Revenge: For Elia's death.
- Revenge Before Reason: To the point where it gets him killed.
- Sobriquet: Known as "the Red Viper."
- Thanatos Gambit: Even though Clegane kills him, Oberyn still gets to have the last laugh.
- Three-Way Sex: His paramour Ellaria Sand and he are very open to experimentation, and Oberyn specifically notes the urge to share a beautiful blonde. However when Cersei is suggested to him he flatly turns her down, saying he'd prefer to share a bed with a hundred scorpions.
Prince Doran's second child. In A Feast for Crows, Arianne discovers that he has been assigned a mission: he has been sent to woo Daenerys and bring her back to Westeros with her three dragons. He narrates in A Dance with Dragons, so be aware that everything in spoiler markings here is from that book.
- Arranged Marriage: the same one Arianne was stuck in. Because Viserys is dead, he's sent in his sister's stead.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He dies due to extremely severe burns after being toasted by Rhaegal. It is even remarked that his eyes boiled and became a pool of pus and his flesh melted off and part of his skull was exposed.
- Determinator: He will do anything to win Daenerys's hand. He gets himself killed in the process.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Daenerys is already betrothed to someone else by the time he arrives, and then he dies horribly.
- The Dutiful Son
- The Everyman: out of his depth, under-confident, not especially attractive, and even a bit nerdy.
- Killed Off for Real: Burned severely by Rhaegal. He dies three days later.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The Martell plot gets an awesome reveal at the end of A Feast for Crows, and Quentyn travels across the known world to reach his queen, losing close friends in the process, gets a foreshadowing scene with Dany where she mentions that even though she is married to Hizdahr zo Loraq, "the dragon has three heads"... and then he gets himself burned to a crisp when he attempts to take Rhaegal and Viserion from their pit.
- Spanner in the Works: To his own father's plans.
- The White Prince: of the naive and well-meaning variety.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Not only does Quentyn think he's in a Heroic tale of good and evil, he thinks that he's the main character. Rhaegal disabuses him of the notion by charbroiling him.
Doran's bodyguard and confidante, Hotah has served House Martell since his boyhood. A quiet, serious old man, he loves Doran and his children very much. An absolutely devastating fighter, he always keeps his axe sharp.
- An Axe to Grind
- Badass Grandpa
- Church Militant: Was trained by the "bearded priests of Norvos."
- The Dragon: Given the Grey and Gray Morality of the series, it's easy enough to see him as Doran's.
- Hired Guns: Formerly.
- The Quiet One: His second chapter is even titled "The Watcher."
The Sand Snakes
Oberyn's bastard children by various women, who are all female. They have yet to play much of a role in the story, other than agitating for war against the Lannisters after Oberyn's death and being imprisoned by Doran for it.
- Action Girl: Obara Sand most notably, but the narrative implies that all of them are quite capable of defending themselves in one way or another.
- Big Gal: Obara
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Tyene Sand, by reputation.
- Cute and Psycho: Tyene shows shades of this, particularly when she asks if Gregor Clegane suffered as he died in a tone any other woman would use to ask if her dress was pretty.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In order to get revenge for her father, Obara wants to attack and burn Oldtown, the second-largest city in Westeros, which had absolutely nothing to do with Oberyn's death.
- Femme Fatale: Nymeria most of all
- Flat Character: None of them have gotten much characterization as of yet, and they're all rather similar to each other in terms of apparent personality and motivations.
- The Ghost: Sarella has yet to appear, although she has been referred to as "playing a game" in Oldtown. Interestingly, there is an effeminate, Dornish student of the Citadel in Oldtown named Alleras, which is Sarella backwards. Guess what the fandom's assuming.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Sand" is the Dornish surname given to bastards, and "Snakes" is because they are the daughters of Oberyn Martell, "The Red Viper".
- Poisoned Weapons: A specialty of Tyene Sand, like her father before her.
- Preacher's Kid: Tyene Sand, the one notorious for poisoning people, is a septa's daughter. This is the reason for why Doran sends her to spy on the new High Septon.