Why the "New Prince of Dorne" Is a Huge Deal in 'Game of Thrones' Season 8

The last we saw of the defiant Ellaria Sand, she was watching her daughter die at the hands of Cersei Lannister in Season 7 of Game of Thrones. A lot has happened since then, and even though Indira Varma (the actress who played Ellaria) won’t be returning in Season 8, Dorne has a new prince, and that might prove beneficial to Daenerys Targaryen.

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After the death of Oberyn Martell, Ellaria wanted revenge on Cersei. She even slaughtered Oberyn’s brother, Prince Doran (and his son Trystane), for choosing to keep the peace between Dorne and King’s Landing. “Weak men will never rule Dorne again” were Ellaria’s final words to Doran.

Ellaria Sand betrays Doran Martell and stabs him to death.
Ellaria Sand betrays Doran Martell and stabs him to death.

After aligning herself with Daenerys Targaryen in Season 7, Ellaria and her daughters (aka the Sand Snakes) vowed to avenge Oberyn, but they were either killed or kidnapped before that could happen.

As the last of their once great house, the deaths of Oberyn, Doran, and Trystane left the Dornish throne without a prince, which is the highest ranking title one can achieve in Dorne. Logically, the next step would’ve been for Ellaria and her daughters to rule. However, the Sand Snakes were Oberyn’s bastard children and, therefore, didn’t have a right to the Dornish throne. Additionally, at least three of their eight daughters are dead.

Since Season 6, Game of Thrones hasn’t checked in on Dorne, but in Season 8, Episode 4, “The Last of the Starks,” Varys told Daenerys that she had the support of the “new Prince of Dorne.” That’s not a lot of information to go on, but it could potentially tip the scales in Episodes 5 and 6.

We also don’t know what Ellaria Sand may have been up to before bending the knee to Daenerys. Could she have orchestrated the rise of a new Prince of Dorne offscreen? It’s possible. Perhaps the new prince is another one of Oberyn’s brothers, a cousin, or a nephew that we’ve never seen. If Ellaria did help to bring him into power, she probably made sure he wasn’t weak.

Game of Thrones Oberyn Martell
Oberyn Martell initially sought revenge on the Mountain for killing his sister, Elia.

The new prince could turn out to be none other than Quentyn Martell, another one of Doran’s sons from the books A Song of Ice and Fire. In the books, Quentyn sets off for Meereen in hopes of marrying Daenerys and joining House Targaryen and Martell once more but is killed by Daenerys’ dragons. Since he’s never mentioned in the series, and Game of Thrones hasn’t followed George R. R. Martin’s books exactly, Quentyn being the new Prince of Dorne is a safe bet.

What does that mean for the remainder of Season 8? Well, Quentyn could still make the attempt to propose a marriage alliance with Daenerys. After all, it’s what his family has done for centuries with the Targaryens.

The only thing standing in the way might be bad blood, especially considering Rhaegar Targaryen left Elia Martell to be with Lyanna Stark. Despite their family history, the Martells seem to value peaceful alliances more than war. Meanwhile, Daenerys might be in love with Jon Snow, but the matter of his lineage complicates matters, and a marriage seems unlikely.

Still, it’s hard to imagine a prince who’s aligned himself with the Breaker of Chains when they have yet to meet. It’s also important to consider that it was Ellaria’s own alliance with Daenerys that helped get her kidnapped, so there’s no reason for Quentyn to bend the knee unless Dorne’s getting something out of it. While it would be unusual to introduce a new character in the final two episodes of a series, Game of Thrones is no stranger to twists and turns. Though we know next to nothing about the new Prince of Dorne, he might be exactly what the series needs heading into the finale.


Game of Thrones Season 8 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.