House Yronwood of Yronwood (Image credit to Scafloc29)
The heirs of House Martell may be styled Princes (and Princesses) of Dorne, but theirs has not always been the uncontested rule of that most southern state. Unlike the Starks and Lannisters, supreme kings in their realms for thousands of years – unlike even the Arryns, conquerors who have become well-respected over several millennia – the Martells have faced heated opposition to their “mere” thousand-year rule of Dorne. The most fearsome of those foes, and the most overmighty of those vassals after Nymeria’s conquest, has traditionally been House Yronwood of Yronwood.
Once High Kings of Dorne, the Yronwoods waxed more powerful than any of their Dornish neighbors until the arrival of Nymeria and her Rhoynish countrymen. Yet the Yronwoods have never let their formerly lowly rivals forget their own impressively royal pedigree or dynastic might. Diplomatic tensions and outright war between Houses Martell and Yronwood have marked Dornish history; the Yronwoods have never succeeded in casting off the Martell yoke (despite strong efforts to do so), but still the masters of Sunspear ignore the masters of the Boneway at their own peril. Studying the history of House Yronwood allows these tense and antagonistic relations to shed further light on where House Yronwood stands in the current day – and where the former High Kings may go in the future, to regain the realm that was once theirs.
Doran Martell has been often hailed as one of the great strategic plotters of A Song of Ice and Fire. His final lines to his daughter at the end of A Feast for Crows – “Justice. Vengeance. Fire and Blood” have been not merely cited as some of the most stirring in the series, but equated with the political brilliance and rhetorical masterstroke of Wyman Manderly’s “The North remembers” declaration. His words seemingly indicate a deep knowledge of how to play the game of thrones – a dedication to a long, carefully planned scheme in which the errors of Robert’s Rebellion are reversed and House Targaryen – with Martell support – once again rules the Seven Kingdoms.
However, is this a fair assessment of the Prince of Dorne? Or is it more the case that Doran has categorically failed to effect his ultimate goal – the restoration of House Targaryen to the Iron Throne – at every stage? Have Doran Martell’s schemes actually resulted in any gains toward that end, or any real change in House Martell’s fortunes? Indeed not, and nor should the Prince of Dorne be considered a strategic genius. Doran is not merely perceived as weak and ineffective, the grass that hides the viper – he is the grass, blown by passionate winds but unable in its own right to do anything but remain firmly planted in the ground. Continue reading →