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Doran Martell - All Bark and no Bite?


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Does anyone else feel like Doran is all talk no results?

He says things like this:

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I have worked at the downfall of Tywin Lannister since the day they told me of Elia and her children. It was my hope to strip him of all that he held most dear before I killed him, but it would seem his dwarf son has robbed me of that pleasure.

What exactly has he done though? Nothing that's had any effect, that's for sure. Tyrion killed him, but it's not like Doran had taken anything from Tywin before that. And he's had almost twenty years to do anything at all on this front.

And this:

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She narrowed her eyes. "What is our heart's desire?"
"Vengeance." His voice was soft, as if he were afraid that someone might be listening. "Justice." Prince Doran pressed the onyx dragon into her palm with his swollen, gouty fingers, and whispered, "Fire and blood."

Bold words for someone who seemed to never even lift a finger to help Daenerys (and Viserys) until now. Also can he not see that 'Fire and Blood' is totally incompatible with making sure innocents don't get hurt?

And also this:

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"I am not blind, nor deaf. I know that you all believe me weak, frightened, feeble. Your father knew me better. Oberyn was ever the viper. Deadly, dangerous, unpredictable. No man dared tread on him. I was the grass. Pleasant, complaisant, sweet-smelling, swaying with every breeze. Who fears to walk upon the grass? But it is the grass that hides the viper from his enemies and shelters him until he strikes. Your father and I worked more closely than you know …

Except when did they do this? The only example we have is the Secret Marriage Pact. So either they worked together once or the other times they worked together it had basically no effect. And he didn't really do a good job of sheltering Oberyen given that he's dead.

He acts (privately) like he's some master schemer or something and that his plans have almost come to fruition. Quite a few people online seem to think this too. But I just can't see it when I look at his track record:

1. Secret Marriage Pact - Amounts to nothing. Now to be fair it wasn't Doran's fault that Viserys got himself killed but maybe if he had bothered to help he wouldn't even have been in that position in the first place.

2. Ruin of Tywin Lannister and His Works - Happens but has nothing to do with Doran. Tywin is killed by his own son and his House's reputation is becoming ruined through his actions and the actions of his children. Doran has no input.

3. Don't forget whatever he was trying to do with sending Oberyn to King's Landing.

4. Marry Quentyn to Daenerys - Complete failure. Quentyn and a chunk of his companions are dead. Rejected by Danerys. No gain and net loss for Doran.

So we have 2-3 failed plans and 1 successful plan that was successful because it had almost nothing to do with Doran.

As one can see, his plans have not just been unsuccessful, they've been a detriment to House Martell and Dorne. Through Doran's grand 'plans', both his brother and son are dead and the country wants to start a war it can't win. He talks about wanting to protect innocents and blah blah blah but all he seems to be heading for is getting tons of innocents killed. Everyone's riled up now and sooner or later he will probably have to side with either Aegon or Daenerys which means war - so dead innocents.

Finally, there is the lovely metaphor with all the overripe blood oranges falling to the ground and splatting in front of Doran as he sits there.

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He’s not a man of action. There are no old, bold sell swords. Just as true that a coward never gets the reward. Planning but not playing accomplish nothing. Waiting for an opportunity is not as good as creating opportunity. 

I won’t predict his chances of success. I only comment on reality. But if George is the same person and wants a man similar to himself to win, yeah Doran can win. 

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6 minutes ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

yeah Doran can win.

How can he win though? Whatever he does he will fail in one of his goals because they are incompatible with each other. He goes to war for vengeance, he loses because innocents are hurt. He stays out of war to protect innocents, he loses because he hasn't got vengeance for his family. Either way he can't win.

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14 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

How can he win though? Whatever he does he will fail in one of his goals because they are incompatible with each other. He goes to war for vengeance, he loses because innocents are hurt. He stays out of war to protect innocents, he loses because he hasn't got vengeance for his family. Either way he can't win.

A man paralyzed with the fear of failure do not win in real life. I am just saying if George is similar to Doran, he might write Doran as the winner. Over analysis might look good to the author.  

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35 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

 

1. Secret Marriage Pact - Amounts to nothing. Now to be fair it wasn't Doran's fault that Viserys got himself killed but maybe if he had bothered to help he wouldn't even have been in that position in the first place.

 

It provides support for the Targaryens and a continued alliance with them. At the first chance of a victory, Viserys will land in dorne with the intention of marrying Arianne. How could anyone have predicted that Viserys will end up killed by his own brother in law who was going to give him an army?

39 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

2. Ruin of Tywin Lannister and His Works - Happens but has nothing to do with Doran. Tywin is killed by his own son and his House's reputation is becoming ruined through his actions and the actions of his children. Doran has no input.

The ruin of Tywin Lannister’s works was supposed to start with Targaryens returning to the throne and the usurpers dynasty being vanquished, which is yet to happen but will happen soon.

42 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

3. Don't forget whatever he was trying to do with sending Oberyn to King's Landing.

Uh, trying to avoid a scandal? There was a need for dornish representatives at the wedding and Doran himself couldn’t attend. Sending Arianne was not an option, so why not send oberyn, who is politically savvy and intelligent.

44 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

4. Marry Quentyn to Daenerys - Complete failure. Quentyn and a chunk of his companions are dead. Rejected by Danerys. No gain and net loss for Doran.

It was an alliance proposal in form of a marriage. Again he didn’t know Dany was married already 

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17 minutes ago, Daenerysthegreat said:

It was an alliance proposal in form of a marriage. Again he didn’t know Dany was married already 

It's a failure not just because it didn't work, but mainly because his son died doing it.

18 minutes ago, Daenerysthegreat said:

Uh, trying to avoid a scandal? There was a need for dornish representatives at the wedding and Doran himself couldn’t attend. Sending Arianne was not an option, so why not send oberyn, who is politically savvy and intelligent.

If he wanted to avoid a scandal he shouldn't have sent Oberyn.

18 minutes ago, Daenerysthegreat said:

The ruin of Tywin Lannister’s works was supposed to start with Targaryens returning to the throne and the usurpers dynasty being vanquished, which is yet to happen but will happen soon.

He said he was working towards it but despite having 20 years has failed to accomplish anything. Also where does he say that the ruin starts with the Targaryens returning to the throne? And even if they do return now, plan failed, because Tywin is already dead and not by Doran's hand, so he won't have stripped him of anything he held dear, not even his own life.

21 minutes ago, Daenerysthegreat said:

It provides support for the Targaryens

What support did it provide them? Oberyn signed some documents and that was it. The pact never helped Viserys or Daenerys. When they were struggling for money and to find somewhere safe, where was the marriage pact? Where was Doran? Only now when Daenerys has done all the hard work does he come knocking. Maybe if they'd known about it before Daenerys wouldn't have had to marry Drogo.

24 minutes ago, Daenerysthegreat said:

How could anyone have predicted that Viserys will end up killed

I pointed out that this wasn't Doran's fault in the original post. My point was that if Doran had actually done something to help, e.g. offer Viserys shelter or money or something, he might never have been in the position where Drogo killed him in the first place.

25 minutes ago, Daenerysthegreat said:

by his own brother in law who was going to give him an army?

Everyone who knows how the Dothraki work realises that Drogo isn't just going to hand over the army. Both Illyrio and Jorah note it will take time, only Viserys is too stupid to listen.

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Doran's plot get's worse the more you think about it.

His speech and actions do not match as @Craving Peaches showed with the quotes.

His objectives and actions do not match either. He wants revenge? against what? everything and everyone involved in the death of his family are dead now, he has no reason to plot revenge anymore, Tywin, Kevan, Gregor, Amory, Robert, Jon Arryn, Ned, Hoster, Aerys, Rhaegar are all dead. There is nothing else to take revenge anymore.

With such discrepancy between his action, speech and objectives we can only see him as idiot. He is not much further away from Ironborn levels of stupidity.

 

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45 minutes ago, Arthur Peres said:

everything and everyone involved in the death of his family are dead now, he has no reason to plot revenge anymore, Tywin, Kevan, Gregor, Amory, Robert, Jon Arryn, Ned, Hoster, Aerys, Rhaegar are all dead. There is nothing else to take revenge anymore.

Unfortunately Oberyn's idiot daughters seem to think it's fine to displace your need for revenge on to the innocent relatives of these people. If Doran lets them have their way the cycle of violence will be perpetuated perhaps for ever.

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I'd put him as one of the worst plotters in the series. I made a couple posts about how bad his plans are.

Part 1:

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So Doran has Oberyn go to Braavos and meet with Ser Willem Darry to set up a betrothal between Viserys and Arianne. Five years later, Ser Willem croaks. Doran could have had Oberyn escort the now unmoored Viserys and Daenerys to Tyrosh, whose daughter had been fostered in Sunspear, fulfilling his end of the pact with the Archon by having Arianne meet her betrothed. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No, especially since Oberyn's travels were well-known to the royal court and would not seem out of the ordinary. Viserys did not have to cross the Narrow Sea at this point, but he should at least meet his intended and vice versa. At the very least they could have started a correspondence. Instead, Doran does nothing when he had no excuse. His justification that Mellario didn't want to lose another child to fostering as she lost Quentyn is bullshit; as an alternative, why not have Oberyn escort the exiled Targaryens to Norvos instead? That way, Mellario could take Arianne with her, the intendeds meet or could at least correspond. The result of Doran's inaction? Viserys degenerates into a paranoid, cruel wreck, the type no man would want for his son-in-law, with no skills to rule or even to take the throne he so wanted. And so ended the Beggar King, crowned with gold.

Part 2:

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After the "crowning" of Viserys, Doran sets his sights on Daenerys, a Queen in truth with power at her beck and call in dragons, Unsullied, and sellswords. What can Quentyn offer? The support of Dorne. Now, how to make him inconspicuous to the Iron Throne, which Doran fears above all else? It's known that the sons of Westerosi noblemen would sometimes tour the Free Cities during their early years of maturity to partake in more knowledge of the world, as Tyrion asked Tywin to do as his uncles had done. This would be in addition to Oberyn's contacts in Braavos and Tyrosh. And Quentyn, with a Norvosi mother, had more opportunities to do so than most since Mellario had left for her home city; it would not look out of the ordinary to use visiting his mother as a pretense to have a home base or even just as a starting point From there, Quentyn could start off from there or Doran could send an invitation to Daenerys that a representative of Dorne wished to meet with her

Doran also made errors in the personnel for Quentyn's quest: Cletus and Archibald Yronwood, Gerris Drinkwater, William Wells, and Maester Kedry. All, while likely skilled knights and someone versed in the tongues of Essos, held allegiance to only one house: House Yronwood, showing that they had no other backing. Even Oberyn understood the importance of image politics, bringing lords, ladies, and heirs from all over Dorne to Joffrey's wedding, to the point that Tyrion felt his own retinue was outmatched. His varied entourage showed that Dorne was not so easily ignored in the politics of the realm.

Contrast with the Fellowship of the Ring: Four were Hobbits and close friends and relatives of the Ringbearer Frodo Baggins (albeit with three being landed gentlemen), but the other members of the Fellowship were skilled in war, languages, with political clout and backgrounds from all over Middle-Earth:

  • Gandalf the Grey, member of the Istari, a Servant of the Secret Fire, Wielder of the Flame of Anor,
  • Aragorn son of Arathorn, Heir of Isildur and Anarion, Chieftain of the Dunedain
  • Boromir, son of Denethor, heir to the Stewardship of Gondor, Captain-General, High Warden of the White Tower
  • Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood
  • Gimli son of Gloin, cousin of Dain II Ironfoot

Even Oberyn understood the importance of image politics, bringing lords, ladies, and heirs from all over Dorne to Joffrey's wedding, to the point that Tyrion felt his own retinue was outmatched. His varied entourage showed that Dorne was not so easily ignored in the politics of the realm.

Doran then made an error in Quentyn's passage to Essos; instead of starting from Oldtown where the companions would not be easily identified, Doran had them start from Plankytown, the only port in Dorne, where they made conspicuous figures, particularly the lazy-eyed Cletus. His attempts at secrecy only increased speculation in the eyes of the lowborn of Dorne, which made their way up to the paranoid Arianne.

The result was disastrous: the company was halved before the reader meets Quentyn, most notably Cletus, the only other member of the party who could have shown any political clout. The plain Quentyn, in manner, face, and garb, had no means of charming Daenerys to fulfill his father's plans and so made a desperate attempt to tame a dragon... flaming out like a frog in the Bayou.

There's also a noticeable lack of faith in Arianne (to be fair Arianne doesn't exactly display much to justify faith in her), even in plans that involve her fate. On the other hand I would have expected Doran to have trusted Arianne (for comparison's sake look at Ned telling Sansa of her betrothal to Joffrey) more, as his heir. Plus he would have been privy to matters amongst the Targaryens that involved Dorne where the ruler did not trust their heir and led to disaster and should have understood their importance; Aegon IV, who entertained thoughts of invading Dorne, frequently clashed with his son Daeron, who had married a Princess of Dorne. Surely Doran would have also been privy to the mistrust between Aerys II and his son Rhaegar, through Rhaegar's wife and Doran's sister Elia. Furthermore since Barristan had known of Viserys' personality, there's no reason Elia wouldn't have, which should have incentivized Doran to have taken his daughter's intended in hand to prevent his daughter from being abused.

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3 hours ago, Craving Peaches said:

Unfortunately Oberyn's idiot daughters seem to think it's fine to displace your need for revenge on to the innocent relatives of these people. If Doran lets them have their way the cycle of violence will be perpetuated perhaps for ever.

At the very least the Sand snakes are more straight foward than Doran, and you can somewhat understand what they are doing and why.

Their father died and they blame the IT, they want war as revenge for that, Toomen was king when that happen and the real power of the throne is in Cersei's hands, so going after them is somewhat understandable, they don't like the idea of paying homage to the murders of their father. At the very least the actions and objectives work together.

It's not the case with Doran.

Doran sees Myrcella and Tommen as inocent kids that do not deserve to be killed for the actions of their grandfather, but he still is trying to overtrow them by supporting a Targeryan restoration... like what does he think will happen to Tommen once Daenerys takes the throne?

Doran can't take revenge anymore because everyone involved in that is dead, but he keeps talking about it. When he had the chance of revenge he decided to do nothing.

Doran does not want war, but send a mensage to propose a future invasion.

His actions and ideas do not work together he is a living contradiction. The only other character that has this messed up discrepancy in his actions and speech is Balon.

Edited by Arthur Peres
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14 minutes ago, Arthur Peres said:

At the very least the Sand snakes are more straight foward than Doran, and you can somewhat understand what they are doing and why.

I can't really understand why they can justify killing Tommen though. I mean he is a sweet and innocent child who has done nothing to them.

They are shocked that Cersei would want to murder Trystane because he's just a young, innocent boy, yet they're happy to kill Tommen...

I mean Oberyn wasn't murdered, he chose to fight and lost despite cheating, and even if he had been murdered, Tommen didn't kill him.

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I tend to agree, all bark and no bite.

Unless it's somehow unveiled that Doran had been in close cooperation with Varys and Illyrio (which I don't see any evidence of), what has he really done?  He made a secret marriage pact...which failed, so he tries to make another one, which fails..  That seems to be the extent of his planning.  The rest of his family and basically all of Dorne think that he's simply too pacifist. 

He's accepted Myrcella as a ward and seems to like that she's getting along with Trystane.  He doesn't seem to be doing anything at all to try and bring Tywin's family down, instead relying entirely on his hothead brother (while simultaneously pretty much putting him and his daughters on a leash.)  This is directly counter to what he says.

He hasn't supported Viserys or Dany, instead playing things completely hands-off, allowing them to be essentially used and then fleeced in the Free Cities, and then he completely lost track of Dany after Viserys died.

He does not appear to have any master plan at all.  His words and actions don't match up, but unlike Littlefinger, Varys, or Larys Strong, he's not managed to really accomplish anything except alienate his own children.  He's just taken two marriage-pact hail-mary shots - that's it.

I do not see where Dorne's story is going.  Clearly GRRM has something planned....Dawn is there and Emostar is being set up for SOME reason.  The Tower of Joy was there and that's hugely important.  Dorne has to be included for SOME reason but I don't see it yet.  The only thing I can think of is that Dorne might make a decent place for Dany to make first-landing, rather than Dragonstone.  The desert and mountains isolate it and would let her form a base of power from which to project her dragons without interference from anyone's navy.  But there's zero indication that Doran has any such intention, and it'd make it really hard for her to reach the North, which she's going to have to do.

I think his family is right.  He's incompetent.

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23 minutes ago, Ring3r said:

I do not see where Dorne's story is going.  Clearly GRRM has something planned....Dawn is there and Emostar is being set up for SOME reason. 

There was a theory I liked about what would happen there in the next book. Obara and Hotah would accompany Balon Swann to hunt down Darkstar as the death of Ser Arys would be pinned on him (not to mention his attack on Myrcella). Hotah would have secret orders to kill Balon. When they got there Darkstar would tell Balon what really happened with Arys and how Hotah was going to kill him. Then they would team up and it would be Balon and Darkstar Vs Hotah and Obara.

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I keep remembering this quote from Arianne; it's one of my favorite lines from the whole story.

Quote

My father is very good at doing nothing. He calls it thinking. ("Feast" 13)

There's one in every crowd, or at least in every good epic.

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Perhaps Sarella/Alleras is his trump card. The sand snake wriggling her way through the Citadel and who might well happen upon information important to Doran. I doubt she's there just to forge a chain. 

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56 minutes ago, Evolett said:

Perhaps Sarella/Alleras is his trump card. The sand snake wriggling her way through the Citadel and who might well happen upon information important to Doran. I doubt she's there just to forge a chain. 

Maybe......but he calls it "playing her games."  I suppose it's possible that she's there to try and find something out about what happened during the fall of Mad King Aerys and she and Sam will discover Jon's true heritage.  But Doran doesn't seem to respect what she's doing...

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3 minutes ago, Ring3r said:

Maybe......but he calls it "playing her games."  I suppose it's possible that she's there to try and find something out about what happened during the fall of Mad King Aerys and she and Sam will discover Jon's true heritage.  But Doran doesn't seem to respect what she's doing...

He does see himself as the "grass that hides the snake." Sarella may simply be doing her own thing of course, with any important discoveries made at the Citadel being a bonus for Doran.... or not. 

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8 hours ago, Evolett said:

He does see himself as the "grass that hides the snake." Sarella may simply be doing her own thing of course, with any important discoveries made at the Citadel being a bonus for Doran.... or not. 

What would Doran be looking for in the Citadel? A way to kill dragons?

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14 hours ago, Ring3r said:

I tend to agree, all bark and no bite.

Unless it's somehow unveiled that Doran had been in close cooperation with Varys and Illyrio (which I don't see any evidence of), what has he really done?  He made a secret marriage pact...which failed, so he tries to make another one, which fails..  That seems to be the extent of his planning.  The rest of his family and basically all of Dorne think that he's simply too pacifist. 

He's accepted Myrcella as a ward and seems to like that she's getting along with Trystane.  He doesn't seem to be doing anything at all to try and bring Tywin's family down, instead relying entirely on his hothead brother (while simultaneously pretty much putting him and his daughters on a leash.)  This is directly counter to what he says.

He hasn't supported Viserys or Dany, instead playing things completely hands-off, allowing them to be essentially used and then fleeced in the Free Cities, and then he completely lost track of Dany after Viserys died.

He does not appear to have any master plan at all.  His words and actions don't match up, but unlike Littlefinger, Varys, or Larys Strong, he's not managed to really accomplish anything except alienate his own children.  He's just taken two marriage-pact hail-mary shots - that's it.

I do not see where Dorne's story is going.  Clearly GRRM has something planned....Dawn is there and Emostar is being set up for SOME reason.  The Tower of Joy was there and that's hugely important.  Dorne has to be included for SOME reason but I don't see it yet.  The only thing I can think of is that Dorne might make a decent place for Dany to make first-landing, rather than Dragonstone.  The desert and mountains isolate it and would let her form a base of power from which to project her dragons without interference from anyone's navy.  But there's zero indication that Doran has any such intention, and it'd make it really hard for her to reach the North, which she's going to have to do.

I think his family is right.  He's incompetent.

He would have had better luck with both plans involving the Targaryens had he been a little more hands-on, at least when it came to Viserys.

As for landing in Dorne, I actually thought similarly regarding where Daenerys should have landed; either that or Oldtown.

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