Game of Thrones is not without its flaws, but nowhere has the show failed so remarkably as its portrayal of Dorne. And now author George R.R. Martin is here to remind us of what Dorne could have been, with a new chapter from The Winds of Winter published this week via his website.
The introduction of the southernmost realm of Westeros in the HBO series was eagerly anticipated, but since first visiting Dorne in Season 5, viewers' frustration with the realm has only grown. Dorne quickly became synonymous with one-dimensional characters, boring action sequences, and the ability for two Sand Snakes to magically appear on a boat in King's Landing with zero explanation of how they got there.
The new chapter published by Martin, however, focuses on the book-only character Arianne Martell.
Officially introduced in A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, Arianne is the eldest daughter of Prince Doran, who is still alive in the books. Martin paints Doran as a quiet schemer who has been secretly working for years to get vengeance for the brutal murder of Elia Martell and her children, rather than a meek complier to the Lannisters' demands. As part of this plan, Doran sends his son, Quentyn, to propose to Daenerys Targaryen, and sends Arianne to investigate the reports that Elia's son, Aegon Targaryen, is alive and waging war to claim his birthright, the Iron Throne.
"You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER?" Martin teased on his latest blog post. "Quite a lot, actually. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait."
The new chapter is told from Arianne's point of view and gives exciting hints at where The Winds of Winter is heading (a potential battle at Storm's End, specifically). However, given that Arianne, Quentyn, Aegon and every character mentioned in this chapter aren't included in the HBO series, that either means:
A) That this entire plotline ultimately means nothing and does not actually affect the outcome of anything.
B) That the ways the show and books conclude will be vastly different.
But even if Martin's Dornish plot is revealed to be nothing but wheel-spinning, at least the man knows how to construct complex characters whose scenes are more than just frustrating stop-overs on the way to more nuanced storylines.
You can check out the new chapter from The Winds of Winter here.