Oberyn Martell

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Oberyn Nymeros Martell
MagaliVilleneuve Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell.jpg
Oberyn Martell by MagaliVilleneuve©

Alias The Red Viper
Title Prince
Allegiance House Martell
Second Sons (formerly)
Race "Salty" Dornishman
Culture Dornishmen
Born In 257 AC or 258 AC[1]
Died In 300 AC, at King's Landing
Book(s) The World of Ice and Fire (mentioned)
A Game of Thrones (mentioned)
A Clash of Kings (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)
The Winds of Winter (mentioned)

Played by Pedro Pascal
TV series Season 4

Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell, also known as the Red Viper, is a member of House Martell and is Prince Doran's younger brother. He has eight bastard daughters, called the Sand Snakes, the four youngest of which are by his current paramour, Ellaria Sand. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones Oberyn is portrayed by Pedro Pascal.

Appearance and Character

Oberyn has the features of a salty Dornishmen. He is a tall, slender, graceful, and fit man,[2][3] and has a lined and saturnine face with thin eyebrows, black "viper" eyes and a sharp nose.[2][3] His hair is lustrous and black with only a few silver streaks and recedes from his brow into a widow's peak.[2]

Oberyn has always been fierce.[4] He has a fearsome and notorious reputation.[2][5] According to Lord Tywin Lannister, Oberyn has always been half-mad.[6] Oberyn's brother Doran has described him as "deadly, dangerous, [and] unpredictable", stating that "no man dared tread on him".[7] However, Doran also claims Oberyn is rash.[4] A witty man who is sharp of tongue.[2][3] Oberyn himself has claimed to have been "a monstrous young fellow" in his youth.[8] Oberyn is a bloodthirsty man, who for years has sought revenge for his sister Elia, with whom he had been inseparable as children.[2] He studied at the Citadel until he grew bored, and has traveled the world, learning much about poisons and, according to rumor, perhaps about even darker arts.[2]

Rumor has it that Oberyn is bisexual.[2] His squire, Ser Daemon Sand, has been rumored to have been one of his lovers.[9] Additionally, it is said he has "begotten bastard girls all over Dorne", though in reality only four of his eight daughters are Dornish, born to his long-time paramour Ellaria Sand.[10] He fearlessly claimed and raised them,[11] arming them so they would be able to defend themselves[12] and allowing them the freedom to choose between wedding, or taking pleasure wherever it can be found.[12]

Oberyn has an interest in fine horseflesh.[2] He despises Lord Mace Tyrell of Highgarden,[3] calling him "The Fat Flower".[2][3]

Oberyn is a renowned warrior,[2] who is as quick as a water snake,[4] and very athletic.[8]


Early life

In his youth, Oberyn was fostered at Sandstone.[13] When in his teens, Oberyn travelled with his mother, the ruling Princess of Dorne, and his sister, Princess Elia Martell, and met multiple potential marriage candidates for his sister, visiting castles at Starfall, the Arbor, Oldtown, the Shield Islands, and Crakehall. Oberyn spent his time mocking Elia's suitors. The last castle they visited was Casterly Rock, where they arrived shortly after the death of Joanna Lannister in childbirth. According to Oberyn, his mother and Lady Joanna had planned to wed either Oberyn to Cersei Lannister, or Elia to Jaime Lannister, or both. Lord Tywin Lannister, however, was unreceptive of the suggestion, stating that his daughter would marry Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. He offered the newborn Tyrion Lannister as a husband for Elia instead, which was seen as an insult.[8]

At the age of sixteen, Oberyn was found in bed with the paramour of Lord Edgar Yronwood, so the lord challenged him to a duel. The duel was to first blood, given the prince's youth and high birth, and both took cuts. Edgar's wounds festered and killed him. Oberyn has been known as the "Red Viper" ever since by friends and foes alike, due to rumors that he fought the duel with a poisoned blade.[2] Afterward, Oberyn was sent to Oldtown and then to Lys in temporary exile (though none called it such) in order for House Martell to make peace with House Yronwood, and Prince Quentyn Martell was sent as a ward to House Yronwood.[9]

Oberyn traveled extensively in the Free Cities, where he learned much about poisons and perhaps even darker arts. He had studied at the Citadel, going so far as to forge six links of a maester's chain before he grew bored. He had soldiered in the Disputed Lands across the narrow sea, riding with the Second Sons for a time before forming his own company. It is said that he beds both men and women, and has begotten eight bastard daughters, called the Sand Snakes.[2] Oberyn, however, does not let his children grow up wanting: he takes responsibility for them, and actively seeks to help raise all his children (something few lords do when it comes to their bastard offspring). He teaches them how to defend themselves and allows them great independence in growing up.[12]

Prince Oberyn was unhorsed by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Ser Barristan Selmy at a tourney at Storm's End.[14][15] He was also present during the tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC, where he danced with Lady Ashara Dayne.[16]

Baratheon Era

Oberyn had a close relationship with his sister Elia. It is currently unknown where Oberyn was during Robert's Rebellion, possibly having remained in Dorne or been serving in Essos in a free company.[17]

During the Sack of King's Landing, Ser Gregor Clegane raped and murdered Elia and also killed her son, Prince Aegon Targaryen. Another Lannister knight, Ser Amory Lorch killed her daughter, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen. After hearing of these deaths, Oberyn attempted to raise Dorne for the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen. The new Hand of the King, Lord Jon Arryn, travelled to Sunspear in the year following the war, and was able to keep the peace, but Oberyn has desired revenge ever since.[2] After the war, Oberyn seldom left Dorne.[6]

Oberyn is primarily responsible for giving modern revitalization to the ongoing feud between his House and the Tyrells, because he accidentally crippled Willas Tyrell in a tourney. Oberyn struck Willas's breastplate clean, but the boy's foot caught in a stirrup as he fell and his horse fell on top of him. Oberyn sent his own maester to help treat Willas, who holds no grudge against Oberyn. The two correspond via raven message as both share a passion for horses.[2]

Oberyn and his brother Doran, Prince of Dorne, worked in secret for years planning on bringing an end to the reign of King Robert I Baratheon and destroying House Lannister.[12] Oberyn traveled to Braavos, where Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen were living with Ser Willem Darry. Oberyn and Willem signed a secret marriage pact, with the Sealord of Braavos as witness, promising Viserys the hand of Princess Arianne Martell in marriage, in return for Dorne's help in reclaiming the Iron Throne from House Baratheon.[18]

Recent Events

A Storm of Swords

The Red Viper vs The Mountain - by zippo514 ©

Prince Oberyn comes to King's Landing to claim his brother Doran's small council seat, and to finally receive justice for the death of his sister Elia,[2] as had been promised to the Martells by acting Hand of the King Tyrion Lannister.[19] Whenever he happens to see Tyrion, he asks when "justice would be served".[6] However, Lord Tywin Lannister plans lie to Oberyn and claim that the now-deceased Ser Amory Lorch was responsible for the deaths of Elia, her daughter Rhaenys, and her son Aegon, although Amory had only killed Rhaenys during the Sack of King's Landing.[6]

Oberyn gives King Joffrey I Baratheon a red gold scorpion brooch for the royal wedding. [20]

When Tyrion is accused of Joffrey's murder, Oberyn is one of the judges. The day before a judgement is to be pronounced, Oberyn offers to be Tyrion's champion in a trial by combat, if Tyrion tells who is guilty of the murder of Elia. Tyrion takes Oberyn up on his offer. He denies any involvement of his father, Tywin, but tells Oberyn that Amory killed Rhaenys and Ser Gregor Clegane killed Elia and Aegon.[3] Oberyn knows already that Gregor will be his adversary.

Oberyn wounds Gregor several times by finding chinks in his armor, severing Gregor's hamstring after the latter tires from chasing him. He breaks his spear in Gregor's belly, but rather than killing him, Oberyn insists that Gregor confess to Elia's murder. Changing the tide of the battle, Gregor trips Oberyn and smashes his armored fist into Oberyn's face, dashing out the prince's brains after first destroying his teeth and knocking out his eyes. Before killing Oberyn, however, Gregor roars his guilt in killing Elia and Aegon for for all to hear.[8]

A Feast for Crows

Oberyn achieves posthumous vengeance as Ser [[[Gregor Clegane]] dies a slow and agonizing death.[4][21]

Oberyn's daughters, the Sand Snakes, seek vengeance for his death; Prince Doran Martell orders Areo Hotah to place them under arrest to keep the peace.[4]

A Dance with Dragons

After Gregor Clegane's skull has been brought to Sunspear, Oberyn's family wonders how to be certain it was indeed Gregor's. Tyene Sand claims to know which poison Oberyn had used during his duel with Gregor and states that if his spear so much as broke Gregor's skin, Gregor could not have survived.[7]

Quotes by Oberyn

Oberyn Martell by Bella Bergolts©

Ellaria: You're going to fight that?
Oberyn: I'm going to kill that.[8]

– Oberyn and Ellaria Sand

Elia Martell, Princess of Dorne, you raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.[8]

– Oberyn to Gregor Clegane

If you die before you say her name, I will hunt you through all seven hells.[8]

– Oberyn to Gregor Clegane

Quotes about Oberyn

Oberyn has always been half-mad.[6]

Tywin Lannister to Tyrion Lannister

The man's infamous, and not just for poisoning his sword. He has more bastards than Robert, and beds with boys as well.[22]

Jaime Lannister to Tywin Lannister

He knew the man only by reputation ... but the reputation was fearsome.[2]

- thoughts of Tyrion Lannister

Oberyn was ever the viper. Deadly, dangerous, unpredictable. No man dared tread on him.[7]

Doran Martell to the Sand Snakes


of Dorne
Ellaria Sand
Obara Sand
Tyene Sand
Elia Sand
Dorea Sand
Sarella Sand
Obella Sand
Loreza Sand