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|“|| When was the last time you left this palace? You don't know your own people. They are disgust for you. Elia Martell, raped and murdered and you did nothing. Oberyn Martell, butchered, and you did nothing. You're not a Dornishmen. You're not our prince. [...] Your son is weak. Just like you. And weak men will never rule Dorne again.
|~ Ellaria to a dying Doran Martell|
Ellaria Sand is a recurring character in A Song of Ice and Fire and a main charachter in Game of Thrones, it's TV series adaptation. While she's not a villain at all in the original novel series, in the TV series she is the main antagonist of Jaime Lannister' storyline in Dorne in Season 5, and a minor antagonist in Season 6.
She is portrayed by Indira Vamra.
Ellaria is the bastard daughter of Lord Harmen Uller and the paramour of Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne. She is one of the "Sandy Dornishmen" of the central desert of Dorne, who possess particularly dark skin, burned brown by the hot desert sun, unlike the Dornishmen like the Daynes or the Santagars. She is introduced in A Storm of Swords and season 4, when she arrives King's Landing with Oberyn and his Dornish party, who seeks revenge for the murder of his sister, Elia, and her two children, Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen, in the Sack of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion. She is the mother of Oberyn's four youngest bastard daughters, Elia, Obella, Dorea, and Loreza.
As depicted in the TV Series, Ellaria is fierce-headed, willful, hateful, bloodthirsty, vengeful, treacherous, self-confident, cunning, fairly intelligent and extremely cruel. Though knowing that Myrcella is not directly responsible for Oberyn's death, she is determined to kill her just to make Cersei suffer. Initially defiant, Ellaria is able to play the reasonable woman when she sees she has no choice but to submit, as she tearfully pledges allegiance to Doran and makes amends with Jaime, just to keep plotting vengeance in secret. She shows no remorse in murdering Doran when she sees she will get no support from him to her cause of starting a war against the Lannisters and avenging the death of Oberyn. Her cruelty reaches an extreme level when she refuses to spare Trystane just because she suspects he is weak like his father.
While in the novels, her sexuality is a source of speculation, in the TV Series, Ellaria is confirmed as bisexual, being shown sleeping with both men and women. However, bisexuality in Dorne is a common habit to high lords and high-born bastards. In both versions, Ellaria is fiercely in love with Oberyn, but while in the novels, she is able to be reasonable and fears for the life of her daughters, in the TV series, her grief turns her into a real villain after Myrcella's poisoning and Doran's murder.
Despite her fierce coup against House Martell, Ellaria remains cautious after she takes control of Dorne, avoiding an immediate attack on the Lannisters and rallying the Dornish army behind Daenerys Targaryen after she sails for Westeros, thus giving her an upper hand in her mission to avenge the death of Oberyn. It's implied, though not confirmed, that Ellaria will ask Daenerys for the legitimization of the Sand Snakes as Martells, giving them legitimity in rulling the region; however, since Myrcella's uncle, Tyrion Lannister, is Hand of the Queen to Daenerys, it's possible that at some point, he may ask justice for the murder of his niece.
Game of Thrones
Ellaria is a recurring character in Season 4, being introduced when Oberyn and his Dornish party arrive King's Landing. Oberyn has been sent by his older brother, Prince Doran, to take his place in the small council, given by Tyrion Lannister during the time of the danger of a siege by the Baratheon brothers, Stannis and Renly, and attend the royal wedding. Much like her lover, she has bisexual tendencies, bedding both men and women. Ellaria and Oberyn attend King Joffrey Baratheon's wedding, where she is introduced to Tywin Lannister and Cersei Lannister. Cersei subtly mocks her bastard status, instigating a debate over the cultural differences between the Dornish and the rest of Westeros. She and Oberyn later witness the poisoning of King Joffrey, of which Tyrion Lannister is accused and arrested for. As Tyrion demands a trial-by-combat, Prince Oberyn offers himself as Tyrion's champion, due to the crown's chosen champion being Ser Gregor Clegane, who killed Aegon and raped and murdered Elia. Despite a close fight in which Oberyn is able to poison Clegane, he is killed before Ellaria's eyes.
Following Oberyn's death, Ellaria turns antagonistic and begins plotting vengeance against the Lannisters. She urges Prince Doran Martell to start a war to avenge Oberyn, but Doran refuses, not wanting to let the Dornish people to face the terrors of war. She also expresses her will to harm Princess Myrcella, Cersei's daughter, in order to take revenge on Cersei for falsely putting Tyrion on the show trial that led to Oberyn's death. Doran forbids this, stating that under his rule, they will not mutilate little girls for revenge. Ellaria doubts that Doran will remain in power if he continues to do nothing and leaves.
Ellaria later mets with Oberyn's oldest bastard daughters, Obara, Nymeria and Tyene, also known as the Sand Snakes. Despite their original contempt of having no army to fight, the Sand Snakes agree to join her in the attempt to avenge Oberyn's death after pointing out that they have Myrcella. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes later return to Water Gardens to kidnap Myrcella and use her for vengeance against the Lannisters, but they are arrested by Doran's guards for treachery.
Later, Ellaria is brought before Doran to receive Jaime, though she is openly antagonistic towards him, calling him Kingslayer and refusing to drink a toast to Tommen as the new King. She leaves and insults Doran for being weak, who in turn threatens to kill her if she speaks to him like that again. Later, Doran issues Ellaria an ultimatum: pledge allegiance to him, or die. Ellaria tearfully complies. She later visits Jaime in his quarters and makes amends with him, falsely affirming that she belives that neither he nor Myrcella played any part in Oberyn's death, but expresses her knowledge that Myrcella is, in fact, Jaime's bastard daughter born of incest. Before leaving, she mocks him for not being born centuries ago into the Targaryen family, in which position his incest would have been accepted.
However, Ellaria's pledge to Doran was false and she still conspires against the Lannisters and to have Myrcella killed. She uses a poisoned lipstick and kisses Myrcella on the lips. She later begins to bleed from her nose herself, but takes an antidote for the poison coated on her lips, wondering what will happen when Doran finds out that she has betrayed him and put his son's life in danger. The poison has the excepted effect and Myrcella dies in Jaime's arms soon as the boat leaves Dorne for King's Landing.
Having appearantly made amends with Doran, Ellaria walks through the Water Gardens with him and her daughter, Tyene, while reminiscing about Oberyn and helps him into his chair. They have a quite warm moment, where Doran admits that he was always jealous of Oberyn for his personality and his ability to travel, but Ellaria comforts him by telling him he is a better-fitted ruller than his younger brother. The moment is intrerupted when Doran receives a letter from Jaime, bringing the news of Myrcella's death and realizes that it was Ellaria's doing. However, Ellaria stabs him to death before he can react, while Tyene kills Captain Areo Hotah and Maester Caleotte. Dissatisfied with Doran's decision, the other palace guards simply stand and watch. Ellaria confronts a dying Doran for being a weak ruller and doing nothing to avenge the deaths of Elia and Oberyn. Doran accepts his fate and begs Ellaria to spare the life of Trystane, his son, but she refuses, telling him that the weak will never rule in Dorne again before leaving him to die on the floor. She does indirectly imply that she will assume control of Dorne from now on. Then, Ellaria sends the Sand Snakes, Obara and Nymeria, to King's Landing to kill Trystane Martell, who is murdered by Obara with a spear in the back of his head.
As revealed in the third episode by Jaime when he confronts Ser Kevan Lannister for not giving him and Cersei a seat in the Small Council, Ellaria is now in control of Dorne.
Some time later, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes meet with Olenna Tyrell, who is now in mourning after the deaths of her son and grandchildren at the hands of Cersei Lannister. Ellaria suggests that they must work together now for survival, as Queen Cersei has declared war on both of them. Olenna objects, saying that survival is not what she is after. Ellaria agrees, and Varys reveals himself, with both of them declaring that they are after "Vengeance, Justice, Fire and Blood.", revealing that Ellaria has become a supporter for the claim of Daenerys Targaryen on the Iron Throne. She later sends the Dornish fleet to join Daenerys in her planned invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
- In the books series, Ellaria doesn't advocate war against the Lannisters, urging against it, in worry the cycle of revenge will continue until even her youngest daughters are eventually consumed by it. Where the most prominent characteristic of Ellaria in the series is a desire for vengeance, the most prominent characteristic of her book counterpart is a desire to avert it.
- Her personality has been drastically changed in the TV series, being not reasonable, hateful, and bloodthirsty.
- The TV series Ellaria is a combanation of the name and identity of her original counterpart, the position and personality of Arianne Martell, and the villainy of Gerold Dayne.
- Her relationship with Doran is negative in the TV series, while in the novels they are genuine friends.
- Ironically, in the finale of Season 6, hers and Varys' lines, which implied their alliance to Targaryens, was in fact spoken by Doran Martell in books when he revealed his true intentions to Arianne.
Ellaria's coup and House Martell's demise
- While in the books the Dorne storyline is seen by the POV of Arianne Martell, Areo Hotah, and Arys Oakheart, in the show the main focus of the storyline is on Ellaria and the 3 eldest Sand Snakes, who are minor characters in the novels. Doran and Areo are less important in the TV series and are both killed in the first episode of season 6. Doran's "Dornish masterplan" to support the Targaryens has been removed from the TV version and Ellaria rules in Dorne now, planning to attack the Lannisters.
- Fans and critics both have negative feelings for the drastically change of Dorne subplot, Ellaria and Sand Snakes' personality and House Martell's fate, regarding it as one of the worst parts of the TV series ever. Also, they find the set of Ellaria's coup has many extreme and illogical mistakes, including:
- Obara and Nymeria were last seen staying behind at the dock in Dorne while the ship carrying Trystane to King's Landing departed over the horizon. Then, they seemingly teleported to the ship at King's Landing, without explanation.
- The ship might have continued on to King's Landing because the crew was loyal to Ellaria - but if that were the case, if they controlled the entire ship, they would have killed both Trystane and Jaime himself immediately, not deliver them back to the Lannister seat of power at King's Landing.
- If the ship's crew was not secretly loyal to Ellaria, but to Prince Doran who desired peace, Jaime and Trystane himself could have ordered the crew to immediately turn the ship around and head back to Dorne, to demand Ellaria's execution - not continue on to King's Landing then send a letter to the same effect. Given the way Jaime's letter was worded her certainly didn't seem to think Doran's hold on power was weak, but that it was still within his means to simply command that Ellaria and the Sand Snakes be executed. Trystane also probably woudn't feel inclined to sail to King's Landing and face Cersei's wrath at Myrcella's death (if anything, Ellaria would have wanted him to go so Cersei would kill him - in which case, there would have been no need to send the Sand Snakes as well).
- Generally it seems that this scenario is what was presented: the ship's crew was loyal to Doran, as if it had been loyal to the Sand Snakes, they'd have killed Trystane before he even arrived at King's Landing, instead of waiting for the Sand Snakes themselves to infiltrate his cabin after letting Jaime go free.
- The poison that Ellaria gave Myrcella with a kiss may have taken hours or even days to take effect, and she thus died when they were already more than halfway to King's Landing. After all, Bronn was nicked by a blade coated in the same poison, but he only starts showing symptoms several hours or days later while in prison - though even then, Bronn didn't drop dead instantly but gradually grew sick, as Tyene taunted him with the antidote for some time before giving it to him. This scenario raises several other issues about pacing and how the events were presented: the episode itself presented it as if Myrcella died during the first private conversation she had with Jaime while on the ship. The camera shows Jaime and Myrcella boarding the ship, then cuts to their conversation in their cabin, then as she dies cuts back to show Ellaria still at the dock with the Sand Snakes - still looking at the same ship, which is close enough to the shore to still be visible. It's possible that this was just misleading camera editing, and that Myrcella actually died from the poison some hours or days later.
- A point against this, however, is that as Ellaria was waiting at the dock, Ellaria herself started showing symptoms of the poison, her nose started bleeding and she immediately had to take the antidote. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes aren't presented as just standing at the docks for hours or days looking out at the sea - they are presented as lingering at the docks for only a short amount of time as the boat passes the horizon - in which case, the boat was close enough to turn back to shore.
- With Doran dead and none of his other children (Arianne and Quentyn) established as existing in the TV show, House Martell is legally extinct. Ellaria cannot make any claim to rule because she was only Oberyn's paramour, not even his legal wife, and even if she as his wife she has no blood claim to House Martell. Oberyn's eldest daughter is Obara Sand - but by definition, all of the Sand Snakes are bastards and thus cannot lawfully inherit any of House Martell's lands and titles.
- However, since Ellaria has rallied behind House Targaryen, it's possible that the Sand Snakes may be legitimised as true Martells by Daenerys if she takes the Iron Throne in reward for their service, or at least it's implied that they will ask for it. As proof, the Sand Snakes continue to use House Martell' sigil for Dorne. This legitimisation would make Obara the rulling Princess of Dorne and Lady of Sunspear. It would be simillar to how a legitimised bastard, Ramsay Bolton, killed his father and trueborn infant half-brother to take over the North.
- Above all, Ellaria's coup is highly unlikely to be present in future novels. Doran, Trystane and Areo Hotah may die in future novels, but it is very unlikely to be killed by Ellaria and Sand Snakes like that in the TV series
- Ellaria Sand on Heroes Wiki - Her heroic counterpart in novels