Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
Separated from the rest of the realm by history, culture, and geography, Dorne is unique among the regions on the mainland. The Martells style themselves princes rather than lords or kings, and foreign Rhoynar blood runs in their veins. A millennia ago, the Rhoynar followed the warrior-queen Nymeria across the narrow sea. Much of the distinct appearances, tastes, and attitudes of the Dornish can be attributed to their Rhoynish descent. Despite their reputation for quick tempers, however, Dorne has been silent while the rest of the realm has been thrown into turmoil. The spears of Dorne are a fearful thing to face. In this time of trouble, no one can know at whose heart they might be aimed.
More than a thousand years ago, Dorne was a patchwork of petty squabbling lords. The Red Mountains kept the Dornishmen safe from invaders until the warrior queen Nymeria and her people came in their 10,000 ships. Nymeria married one of the petty lords, Mors Martell, and together they brought Dorne to heel. The Rhoynar brought their own traditions and customs. As the peoples mingled over generations, however, the ancient beliefs faded.
In the centuries that followed the unification of Dorne, the Princes fought many wars against their neighbouring sovereigns in the Reach and the Stormlands, leading to a rivalry that is long in dying. There were border wars beyond measure, and raids over the mountains even during the periods of peace.
When the Targaryens later landed on Westeros and made their bid to rule all Seven Kingdoms, the Martells were as defiant as their neighbours in resisting the dragons. Unlike the other old kings, however, Dorne remained independent despite Aegon’s vast armies. The Dornishmen kept their troops scattered to escape the dragon’s fire; they never massed in the field nor in castles, but fled whenever the dragons appeared, only to regroup to strike at the Targaryens’ flanks. Though Daeron I briefly conquered Dorne, he lost 20,000 men in the inevitable rebellion. It was his namesake, Daeron II, who brought Dorne into the realm by wedding a Dornish princess, Myriah, and giving his sister’s hand to the ruling Prince of Dorne.
For the next 150 years, the Martells cleaved to the Targaryens, in time wedding Princess Elia to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. When Rhaegar absconded with Lyanna Stark, however, the Martells grew furious and withdrew all but nominal support from the Targaryens until the very end of the War of the Usurper. Prince Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard, Doran’s uncle, led Dornish spears at the Trident, but that battle was lost almost as soon as it was begun; Lewyn died as Rhaegar did.
Shortly thereafter, Tywin Lannister’s forces sacked King’s Landing, brutally murdering Princess Elia and her children. Dorne cried for vengeance, and Prince Oberyn tried to raise Dorne’s spears for Prince Viserys Targaryen. Jon Arryn, Robert’s Hand, was sent to Sunspear to prevent a rebellion. Arryn returned Prince Lewyn’s bones and quieted the drums of war through talks with Prince Doran. Since that time, Dorne has kept primarily to itself, and Robert has been content to leave them so, never visiting the region.
The Martells are “salty” Dornishmen, a label applied by the Young Dragon, distinguishing them from “sandy” and “stony” kin. The blood of the Rhoynar runs thick in their veins, which may explain why the men are known for their hot tempers and the women are said to be wild and wanton. In the Reach, though, it is said that the hot spices of Dornish food are more to blame.
The truth is more varied than that, but Prince Oberyn, the Red Viper, is a prime example of the qualities for which Dornishmen are infamous: quick to anger, slow to forgive, and cruel for the sake of cruelty itself. His brother, on the other hand, is quite a different kind of creature.
Prince Doran is the head of the family and Lord of Sunspear. He is cautious to the point of being sedate, and lacks the martial reputation of his younger, and far less tractable, brother.
The Martells rule all of Dorne, from the Red Mountains to the Summer Sea. Their seat is the citadel of Sunspear and the city in its shadow. Near Sunspear lies the Water Gardens, a pleasure palace raised by Prince Maron Martell for his Targaryen bride, to which the Martells sometimes retreat when the heat of summer is at its most unbearable. The Martells can call 50,000 spears to their banners — lightly equipped compared to the levies of the other realms, but making up for it with fierce swiftness and cunning. The fabulous horsemen of Dorne, mounted on their tireless sand steeds, are as proficient with the use of the bow and javelin as they are with lance and sword.
Having neither great wealth nor great influence, House Martell and Dorne are largely uninvolved in the current events of the realm. This is in part by choice, following the murders of Princess Elia and her children during the Sack of King’s Landing. These great tragedies nearly led Dorne to rebel against the newly crowned Robert. Prince Doran is known for his vast caution, however, and seems to lack any great ambitions. Consequently, the land remains neutral and attached to the Seven Kingdoms … for now.
ALLIED HOUSES: None
ENEMY HOUSES: Lannister, Tyrell
House Martell plays no part in the war over the Iron Throne following Robert’s death. With Renly gathering a great army, Stannis preparing his fleet, and the Lannisters scrambling to win the war in the Riverlands, however, there are many reasons why Dorne’s strength may be crucial in this time of crisis. With the mountain passes allowing them access to the Marches, the Reach, and Stormlands beyond, they may support or threaten the armies gathering there.
Prince Doran Martell is past fifty and suffering from gout. His wife, Mellario, hails from the Free City of Norvos. Their children include: Princess Arianne, heir to Sunspear; Prince Quentyn; and Prince Trystane. Doran’s sister was Princess Elia, murdered wife of Rhaegar. His brother is Prince Oberyn, the Red Viper.
FEATS: Able Body; Blood of the Rhoyne; Gold Breeder; Stubborn; Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
SOCIAL STATUS: Rank 4 (Member of a Great House)