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So basically one of the main issues with the Song of Fire and Ice novels is how George RR Martin loves to keep on expanding and growing his world. But this becomes an issue when he’s reaching the tail end of his series and he should less focused on introducing new elements and instead be condensing things and bringing together all of the stuff he already has in play. GRRM is terrible at wrapping things up. He’s sort of become addicted to the high of trying to surprise audiences with big dramatic turns like the beheading of Ned Stark or the Red Wedding. But this is a high that becomes more and more difficult to replicate as audiences become accustomed to it.
A Land of Passion and Violence
Which brings me to Dorne. Everything in Dorne is a complete waste of time in both the books and TV show. I know you probably wanna take your pitchforks, whips, and scimitars and chase me to the hills, but in your heart of hearts you know it’s true. Now don’t get me wrong everything on paper about Dorne is cool as hell. Dorne being depicted as a passionate land filled with passionate people who are all hot blooded spaniards with the temperament of Inigo Montoya is an interesting contrast to the other seven kingdoms. The Red Viper is a great character and the idea that he has several bastard daughters who are all badasses and collectively known as the sand snakes is cool as well. Doran Martell is an interesting character given the fact that his ailment has forced him to become sedentary both physically and mentally as he tries to prevent his entire country filled with passionate hot-blooded people from doing anything stupid and rash.
Too Many Martel's
Arianne Martell is an interesting character who strides both lines of being smart, but also impulsive providing a great middle ground between the dangerous sand snakes and the more slow and deliberate plotting of her father. But let’s face it, as cool as all of these elements are, what exactly have they done in terms of resolving or pushing forward any of the larger plot threads seen in Game of Thrones? Not much in particular. There are basically two major things that almost happen in Dorne. The first is Ariana Martel’s plan to try and crown princess Mycella as queen of the seven kingdoms and hopefully stir up a revolution in Dorne and declare open rebellion against the Iron Throne. This is a dumb plan that is ultimately thwarted by her father, but this turns the entire thing into a complete waste of time given how much page time is given to fleshing out her plan, only for all for it to come to nothing given the fact that her father is at least three steps ahead of her.
Adapting the Unacceptable
You can see where this would give the Game of Thrones show runners a pretty big problem in terms of adapting the material for the series. All of the book stuff in Dorne never really goes anywhere. It just mostly adds even more characters to an already unwieldy and large cast and is mostly a waste of time. So the choices they made in terms of putting Ellaria Sand into the Arianne Martell role makes sense. She’s already a character audiences know from the previous season, plus it saves the production the trouble of introducing another character and casting another performer. Having Jaime Lannister going to Dorne with Bronn makes sense in terms of giving your principal cast members something to do. It was the best solution to a bad situation where George RR Martin didn’t exactly provide them with the strongest material to work within the books.
But because of this weakness, the Dorne material is easily some of the weakest in the entire show, not to mention that nobody gave much of a shit about any of the sand snakes. Probably the best scene of them in the entire series is when they get all get owned by Olenna who gives them about as much respect as the audience has for them. It’s no wonder that nobody particularly mourned their deaths when they were unceremoniously butchered by Euron Greyjoy. So there you have it, all of the backstory of Dorne is great, but in the actual context of the Song of Ice and Fire books and Game of Thrones TV show, it’s all kind of a waste of time that does little to contribute to the larger plot thread or anything consequential. At its best it’s really engaging fluff. But even the best fluff in the world needs to actually be in service of something greater and with no payoffs in sight, that’s why everything in Dorne is a complete waste of time. You could also say the same thing about all the Iron Island stuff unless Euron actually manages to accomplish anything in the books, but I think chances are he probably won’t.