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Araya Flint

The Sun Hiding the Spear: Darkstar as Doran’s Spy

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By Araya Flint and Aemy Blackfyre

Doran Martell first appears docile and uninvolved in political intrigue, but later Arianne chapters have revealed him as a scheming politician who is using this image as a cover for his plots. We argue that the character of Darkstar is a part of this cover. While Doran seems concerned about him being dangerous, Darkstar is actually working as a spy for Doran, a pawn in his own game of thrones. With this added knowledge of Darkstar as a pawn of Doran, the Dornish plot comes alive with possibilities.

Darkstar and Doran are working together: a sword and a shield

One person acting as a “sword” and another person acting as a “shield” is used elsewhere in the story, particularly when it comes to Doran Martell. Doran/Oberyn had a relationship where Oberyn was out front, a visible warrior, the “Red Viper” for Dorne. Doran and Darkstar establishing a sword/shield relationship follows the practice of Doran/Oberyn. This relationship type benefits both parties – Doran makes strategic plans and represents the official Dornish position in the realm, this is especially important when it comes to keeping good relations with the Iron Throne. We know that while Doran openly communicates a position that is obsequious to the Iron Throne, he has secret plans to align with the Targaryens. Doran has Oberyn as a partner, a “sword,” who makes tactical plans that achieve Doran’s secret goals.  Doran’s relationship with Oberyn is precedence for a similar arrangement with Darkstar. With Oberyn dead, it makes sense that Doran would seek another sword – even someone with a dangerous or untrustworthy reputation, like Darkstar.  Afterall, there are other examples of a sword/shield relationship among Lords and dangerous characters, including:

·     Gregor/Tywin. For decades, these two carried out atrocities (killing of Elia and her children, rape/pillage of the Riverlands) that benefited the Lannisters and allowed Tywin to claim deniability. 

·       Lynn Cobray/Petyr Baelish. 

·       Ramsey/Roose.

Darkstar and Doran are working together: Darkstar told – or was he ordered?

There are decent theories around Tyene or Garin being the one who told because the ambush by Areo occurred at the Greenblood. Arianne’s party met up at the ruins, then rode to the Greenblood, where Darkstar turned his sword on Myrcella. Whoever told Doran of Arianne’s plot to crown Myrcella, that person would need to know about the plans to take a boat at the Greenblood, because that’s where Areo intervened. 

Darkstar is a candidate because as stated in “the Queenmaker,” Darkstar arrived a day before others at the Greenblood; Arianne, Drey, and Sylva arrived around sunset and Garin a few hours earlier.  It’s possible that Areo arrived with Darkstar and rode to the Greenblood the night before to lay the trap.

Darkstar says to Arianne that crowning Myrcella is a hollow gesture and that the only way to start a war is with a sword. He’s openly stating his desire for violence, which sounds similar to something Oberyn would say.  We argue that Darkstar likely said the same thing to Doran. Doran imprisoned the sand snakes in the spear tower early in a Feast for Crows, after Obara pressured Doran to call the spears and Tyene explained the idea to crown Myrcella.  Doran says that he’ll think about it.  At this point, he may have realized that he can only delay the sand snakes and that he needed to set his plan in motion, with Darkstar.

Darkstar and Doran are working together: to harm or kill Myrcella

Examining the possibilities for Arianne’s betrayer is interesting, but that doesn’t examine the motive for why Darkstar attacked Myrcella, as Arianne asked herself, “someone told. Garin, Drey and Spotted Sylvia were friend of her girlhood, as dear to her as her cousin Tyene. She could not believe they would inform on her…but that left only Darkstar, and if he was the betrayer, why has he turned his sword on poor Myrcella?”  One possibility is that it was pre-arranged by Doran/Darkstar to harm or kill Myrcella.  Doran may be copying Tywin’s approach from the sack of King’s Landing, where Gregor killed Aegon and Rhaella and Tywin claimed Gregor was acting on his own. Using Tywin’s approach, Doran can keep up appearances and blame a rogue, dangerous actor – Darkstar for the attempted murder. On the way to the Greenblood, Darkstar is the only one that does not drink alcohol, instead choosing to drink lemon water. This is perhaps a sign that he wanted to remain focused for his upcoming mission that was assigned to him by Doran.

Assuming Darkstar told Doran of Arianne’s plans – what was Doran’s intent for Darkstar at the meeting?  He didn’t want the crowning and sent Areo to stop it. It is possible that Doran ordered Darkstar to kill Myrcella, or perhaps more ingeniously, ordered him to cut her with a sword that was coated with a slow acting poison. There are also poisons in world that can be mistaken for a death from organ failure such as widow’s blood and the tears of Lys. If Myrcella’s facial wound is poisoned, then by the time Myrcella returned to King’s Landing it could appear that she died of an infection or illness and Dorne would be essentially blameless. Then Doran would be open to betroth Trystane to Dany or another female contender for the throne. With Myrcella gone, there is also the opening for (f)Aegon to be engaged to Arianne and have a united Targaryen–Dornish alliance to attack Kings Landing.

After the incident with Myrcella, Doran expresses dismay and displeasure to Arianne.  “As it is, the slash opened her cheek down to the bone and sliced off her right ear. Maester Caleotte was able to save her life, but no poultice nor potion will ever restore her face. She was my ward, Arianne. Betrothed to your own brother and under my protection. You have dishonored all of us.”   Doran wanted to prevent Arianne from crowning Myrcella, possibly to carry out his own plans regarding Myrcella and to divert the blame from Arianne to Darkstar. 

Afterall, Doran’s reaction to the ladies involved in Arianne’s crowning plot is light.  As Doran says, “the time is not yet come for Dorne to openly defy the Iron Throne,” while he has been secretly defying the Throne for about 15 years. After the incident with Myrcella, Doran “punishes” those involved – Sylvia to Estermont, Garin to Tyrosh – sure those are punishments, but it’s not exactly the dungeons. This indicates that Doran was planning an exit strategy for a while, possibly while the sand snakes were in the spear tower.

Hiding Darkstar

When Balon Swann arrives in Dorne, Doran sends him and Obara on a mission to get Darkstar, “Obara, you will lead him [Balon Swann] to High Hermitage to beard Darkstar in his den.” Because it was a failed attempted murder, Doran has to put on a show by sending Obara and Balon to hunt down Darkstar, while sending Tyene and Nymeria to Kings Landing. What are the chances that Darkstar is even at High Hermitage? If Doran is sending Obara and Balon on a wild goose chase it is to delay them to give (f)Aegon time to land and/or Quentyn time to marry Daenerys. Obara is the one that will lead Swann to High Hermitage. If Darkstar was completely acting alone or without his protection, he would likely send a larger force.  Obara will either kill Swann along the way or arrange for him to be killed. 

So where is Darkstar? We argue that he is certainly not at High Hermitage, but is either on a mission from Doran or hiding out elsewhere. Some possibilities are Starfall or the Water Gardens. It is also possible that he has been sent to keep an eye on strong Dornish houses that Doran worries will not get in line when he needs them, such as House Yronwood.

Where the Doran/Darkstar partnership fits in the landscape

Doran knows that he can’t openly defy the Iron Throne, yet he wants to take action. His actions are reminiscent of Varys and Illyrio.  Varys and Doran have many similar goals that could hint at them working together, or at least letting the other continue to scheme as long as it is beneficial. Both want the Seven Kingdoms to be in chaos, Varys for the purpose of (f)Aegon’s landing, and Doran for the eventual Dornish rebellion. Even if Varys does not know of Doran’s plan to marry Arianne to (f)Aegon, Dorne has a history of being hard to keep under the control of the Iron Throne, so it is not unthinkable that Varys would see Dorne as a future ally of (f)Aegon’s cause. While Varys and Doran may not be explicitly working together, their shared goals are notable: The seven kingdoms in chaos, an end to the Lannisters, and the reestablishment of Targaryen rule.

Both Doran and Varys want conditions in Westeros to be ripe for rebellion. Both Doran and Varys have been plotting for a while: Doran has been rebelling since Elia died, though it’s unclear when exactly Varys started his plans for Viserys/Daenerys but Varys’ plans have been in place for years.  Doran is known to keep his plans closely held  – he’s so secretive that he kept his daughter, Arianne, in the dark about his plans for her future and his plans to marry her to Viserys and become Queen. 

The larger point is that Darkstar and Doran not what they appear. Just as Doran trusted Oberyn to carry out his plots despite the Red Viper’s unpredictable nature, Doran has entrusted Darkstar to be his sword, and throw him under the bus if necessary. Using Darkstar, Doran has already began the campaign for Dornish independence, revenge against the Lannisters, and one of his children married to the ruler on the Iron Throne.

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