The Sand Snakes are the eight bastard daughters of Prince Oberyn Martell. Although noble-born bastards are often ignored by their parents, Oberyn has acknowledged and looked after all his daughters and has loving relationships with each of them. They are all loyal members of House Martell, and are treated as such by their uncle Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne and Lord of Sunspear. Their collective nickname comes from the bastard surname used for noble bastards in Dorne and the nickname of their father: the "Red Viper." Oberyn trained the oldest three —Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene— extensively in combat.
The Sand SnakesEdit
- Obara Sand, the first Sand Snake, mothered by a peasant. Named in honor of her father.
- Nymeria Sand, the second Sand Snake, mothered by an eastern noblewoman. Named after the Rhoynar warrior-Queen Nymeria, the original ruling Princess of Dorne.
- Tyene Sand, the third Sand Snake, mothered by Ellaria Sand.
- Sarella Sand, the fourth Sand Snake, mothered by a Summer Islander ship captain.
- Elia Sand, the fifth Sand Snake, mothered by Ellaria Sand, named after Oberyn's late sister.
- Obella Sand, the sixth Sand Snake, mothered by Ellaria Sand.
- Dorea Sand, the seventh Sand Snake, mothered by Ellaria Sand.
- Loreza Sand, the eighth Sand Snake, mothered by Ellaria Sand.
The Sand Snakes are all Oberyn's daughters and raised in Dornish culture, but they have a variety of personalities that play off each other. As sisters, they might bicker on a course of action from time to time, but when faced with an external threat they will instantly band together to overcome it.
Obara, the eldest, inherited her father's martial prowess. Unlike the other Sand Snakes she is not the daughter of a noblewoman but of a commoner that caught Oberyn's eye. When she was a little girl Oberyn came to bring her to court, and made her choose between him or her mother; she chose to go with him, knowing she would never see her mother again (who later died). While the Dornish are often hot-blooded and passionately display their emotions, Obara is very taciturn, trained not to outwardly show her emotions. However, this does not mean that she is the most rational member of the group: she is in fact one of the more irrational of the sisters, ruled by her emotions. The distinction is that she will not shout or make threats if someone angers her - she will simply kill them unexpectedly, with little heed to the long term consequences. She is exceptionally skilled at combat with a traditional Dornish spear, having been trained extensively by her father.
Nymeria, the second eldest, is the daughter of an eastern noblewoman. She is the most rational and calculating of the Sand Snakes, having inherited Oberyn's cunning, evidenced by her choice of weapon: a 12 foot bull whip. In the right hands, a whip can be used for unpredictable attacks to disarm or trip up a larger opponent carrying heavier weapons, but it requires a large amount of strategy and planning during the fight in order to use effectively. In situations in which the other sisters would charge ahead, Nymeria will hold back and try to assess the situation, to calculate if it would be more opportune to wait to strike at a later time (in this she is actually somewhat like her uncle, Prince Doran Martell). Nymeria is Obara's closest confidant: she will do nothing without Obara's approval. At the same time, Nymeria is the only person (besides Oberyn) that can say "no" to Obara: to outsiders it might seem like they might be bickering, but Nymeria is the only person that Obara will even bother to heed the advice of, though she might still disagree. With anyone else, Obara doesn't even pause to listen, and simply charges ahead to do what she wanted.
Tyene is the youngest of the three (the other five are younger and not traveling with them). As the youngest, she is the most impetuous, trying to prove herself to the others, and the most overtly hot-tempered. In a situation where Nymeria would pause to assess her enemy before making a precision strike, and Obara would silently charge right in and attack with cold force, Tyene will passionately shout and threaten her enemy as she attacks them head-on. This prowess is exemplified in her choice of hand weapons: short daggers for quick attacks, which she can draw and strike with before her sisters can restrain her. She also greatly enjoys using poison against her enemies - most often using poisons to coat the blades of her daggers, as Oberyn was known to poison the blades of his spears.
|Doran Martell||Elia Martell|
|Rhaegar Targaryen |
|Ellaria Sand |
of House Uller
|Trystane Martell||Deceased||Rhaenys Targaryen |
|Aegon Targaryen |
|Obara Sand |
1st Sand Snake
Fathered on a Dornish peasant
|Nymeria Sand |
2nd Sand Snake
Fathered on an Eastern noblewoman
|Sarella Sand |
4th Sand Snake
Fathered on a Summer Islander ship captain
|Tyene Sand |
3rd Sand Snake
Eldest of Ellaria's daughters
(Elia, Obella, Dorea, Loreza)
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Sand Snakes are infamous throughout Dorne. Their names, in order of age, are Obara, Nymeria, Tyene, Sarella, Elia, Obella, Dorea, and Loreza. Obara was born of a prostitute from Oldtown, Nymeria of a noblewoman from Volantis, Tyene of a septa, Sarella of a trader from the Summer Isles, and the rest of Ellaria Sand. Despite inheriting widely different appearances from their birthmothers, they are all said to have their father's eyes. Being Dornish bastards, they all have the surname "Sand" and are associate members of their father's House.
The oldest four are close friends and confidants of Prince Doran Martell's daughter and heiress, Princess Arianne.
Each of the eldest four Sand Snakes inherited or took after one of their father's famous traits: Obara has her father's martial prowess; Nymeria inherited Oberyn's good looks, sex drive, and cunning; Tyene has her father's skill with poisons; Sarella inherited her father's keen intellect.
The younger four Sand Snakes do not appear prominently in the first five novels, due to their ages: Elia Sand, the eldest, is fourteen years old near the end of the fifth novel, and Loreza (the youngest) is only around six years old. Elia, however, is old enough to share her half-sisters' rapport with Princess Arianne, and is just starting to be old enough to take part in the activities of her elders by the beginning of the sixth novel.
"Tyene Sand" in the TV series is basically a combination of book-Tyene Sand and book-Elia Sand into one character. It's not clear if this means that Ellaria is also Sarella's mother in the series or if she still has a different parentage.
Doran Martell acts very cautiously when any of his nieces are present. He is aware how dangerous they are, and that their kinship will not stop them from harming him (after he caressed Tyene's head, Maester Caleotte examined his palm very carefully and thoroughly for any scratches or a particular smell to see if she poisoned him). Areo Hotah watches them closely in such occasions, ready to take action whenever they make a potentially harmful move.
In the beginning of A Feast of Crows, the three eldest Sand Snakes come up with various plans to avenge their father, none involves harming Myrcella:
- Obara, who relies most on martial prowess and brute force, demands her uncle to give her and Nymeria an army, that she can sack Oldtown while Nymeria heads to King's Landing.
- Nymeria, the most cunning of the sisters, suggests that she and Tyene will lead a precision strike: to assassinate Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, and Tommen.
- Tyene's plan is to crown Myrcella in order to provoke the Lannisters and Tyrells into attacking Dorne, then the Dornish will bleed them in the passes and bury them beneath the blowing sands.
Prince Doran rejects the above plans, and takes steps to prevent all his eight nieces from stirring up troubles. However, his daughter Arianne attempts to accomplish Tyene's plan, which nearly results in Myrcella's death: one of Arianne's escorts, Ser Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne, injures her severely and escapes. Myrcella survives but is terribly disfigured. Arriane is imprisoned, like her cousins.
In the fifth novel, after Ser Balon Swann arrives in Dorne to retrieve Myrcella, Doran orders the release of his daughter and nieces, and gives them tasks: Obara will lead Ser Balon in the chase after Darkstar, while Nymeria and Tyene accompany Myrcella and Trystane to King's Landing. Nymeria will take her father's seat on the Small Council, while Tyene, disguised as septa, will befriend the new High Septon. All three of the Sand Snakes swear that they will serve their uncle.
|Lord:||Prince Doran Martell||Heir:|
|Title(s):||Prince of Dorne · Lord of Sunspear|
|Ancestors:||Princess Nymeria · Prince Mors Martell · Prince Maron Martell · Princess Daenerys Martell · Queen Myriah Martell|
|Current members:||Prince Trystane Martell · Ellaria Sand · Obara Sand · Nymeria Sand · Tyene Sand · Sarella Sand · Elia Sand · Obella Sand · Dorea Sand · Loreza Sand|
|Deceased members:||Prince Lewyn Martell · Princess Elia Martell · Prince Oberyn Martell|
|Overlord:||House Baratheon of King's Landing|