Oberyn Martell

Oberyn Martell is the younger brother of Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne. He is a beloved Prince in Sunspear and a master of deadly poisons.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

Oberyn Martell and the rest of Dorne become mortal enemies with House Lannister because of their involvement in Elia and her children’s death. When Tyrion Lannister got arrested for killing his nephew, King Joffrey Baratheon, Oberyn decided to fight on his behalf to avenge his sister.

Oberyn Martell Personal Details

  • Name: Oberyn Martell.
  • Year of Birth: 257 or 258 AC.
  • Year of Death: 300 AC in King’s Landing.
  • Titles: Ser, Prince, Acolyte.
  • Culture: Dornishmen.
  • Religion: Faith of the Seven.
  • Allegiance: House Martell, Second Sons.
  • Aliases: Red Snake, The Snake, Oberyn Viper, The Red Viper.
  • Children: Obara Sand, Nymeria Sand, Tyene Sand, Sarella Sand, Elia Sand, Obella Sand, Dorea Sand, Lorenza Sand.
  • Lovers: Ellaria Sand, Unnamed Septa, Unnamed Volantene Noblewoman.
  • Eye Color: Black.
  • Hair Color: Black.

Appearance and Personality

Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell is a handsome man with the typical features of a Salty Dornishman. He is tall, slim-framed, and fit. His magnificent black hair accentuates his slender beautiful melancholic face with thin eyebrows and jet-black eyes. He mostly wears a pale-red silk cloak with a guided helm featuring a copper sun on its brow and an armored shirt with copper disks overlapping each other. Oberyn wields a brightly polished steel shield that features the Martell sun-and-spear in many shades of gold.

Oberyn is a hot-tempered man with a notorious reputation for bloodlust. According to people like Lord Tywin Lannister, he has always been half mad. Although he is fierce and deadly, Oberyn is rash and has a bit of a blabbermouth, according to his older brother Doran. Besides all his ferociousness, he had a very close relationship with his sister, Elia, and was inseparable from her when they were younger. After the death of his sister Elia, Oberyn swore revenge on House Lannister. He also hated Lord Mace Tyrell and mocked him by calling him the Fat Flower of Highgarden.

According to rumors, Oberyn loves the company of both men and women. One time, rumors began spreading that he and his one-time squire, Ser Daemon Sand, had sexual relations. However, it was never proven to be true. As for women, Oberyn had many lovers and fathered many children. He had eight bastard daughters who later formed the Sand Snakes.


Early Life

Oberyn was born to House Martell as the second son of the Princess of Dorne. For most of his childhood, he got fostered at Sandstone, the seat of House Qorgyle. When he was old, his mother traveled with him and his sister to many regions of Westeros, looking for potential marriage candidates. Oberyn made fun of his sister for the suitors she met.

Finally, Oberyn’s mother reached Casterly Rock. On getting to the castle, she requested that Elia or Oberyn betrothed to either Cersei Lannister or Jaime Lannister. However, Lord Tywin refused the suggestion, stating that Cersei would marry Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. When he suggested that Elia marry an infant Tyrion Lannister, Oberyn’s mother left, seeing the offer as an insult. 

At age 16, Oberyn got caught in bed with Lord Edgar Yronwood’s paramour. The Lord challenged him to a duel of first blood. During the fight, Oberyn and Edgar wounded each other, but Edgar’s wounds worsened, and he died. To make peace with House Yronwood, Oberyn got sent on a temporary exile to Oldtown Lys, while Prince Quentyn Martell, Doran’s son, got sent as a ward to Yronwood.

While in exile, Oberyn traveled throughout the Free Cities and learned darker arts involving poisons. He studied at the Citadel to become a maester but eventually got bored and left. After leaving, he joined the Second Sons but created his sellsword company. He later attended a tourney at Storm’s End and Harrenhal, where he danced with Ashara Dayne.

Post Robert’s Rebellion

Though Lord Tywin Lannister had arranged for his daughter to marry Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, King Aerys canceled the arrangement as Elia married Rhaegar. During the tourney at Harrenhal, Rhaegar named Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and beauty over his wife, and a year later, he kidnapped her; this led to Robert’s Rebellion.

After Robert killed Rhagar in the battle of the Trident, Lord Tywin Lannister sacked King’s Landing and ordered Ser Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch to kill Elia and her children. Gregor killed Elia’s infant son, Aegon, and then raped her before killing her. Upon hearing about their deaths, Oberyn secretly headed to Essos to make a pact to marry Princess Arianne Martell to Prince Viserys Targaryen. However, before he raises an army in support of the Prince, Lord Jon Arryn heads to Dorne and makes peace. Oberyn then swore vengeance for his sister.

While in a tourney, Oberyn crippled Willas Tyrell, sparking a feud between both houses. After the incident, he and Willas maintained communication as they both shared a love for horses. After he grants his squire, Daemon Sand, knighthood, Oberyn becomes the head of Sunspear as his brother moves to the Water Gardens after his health deteriorates.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Storm of Swords

After Tywin and the Tyrells save King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon, Doran gets named one of the ministers on the small council. In place of his brother, Oberyn heads to King’s Landing to take his brother’s position and receive justice for his sister’s murder. Oberyn attends the wedding of King Joffrey and watches as he chokes to death. Tyrion Lannister gets accused of killing his nephew and gets locked up. 

After many witnesses get brought to testify against Tyrion, Shae finally takes the stand. During her false testimony, Tyrion gets angry and decides he wants a trial by combat. A day before his judgment, Oberyn offers to be Tyrion’s champion if he tells him who murdered his sister and her children. Tyrion reveals that Ser Gregor and Armory Lorch were responsible but denies his father’s involvement.

During the trial, Oberyn fights Gregor and injures him with his poisoned spear, his spear breaks on Gregor’s belly, but instead of killing him, he proceeds to ask him to confess what he did to his sister. The tide of the battle changes because of Oberyn’s actions, and Gregor kills him. Gregor then reveals he indeed killed Elia and her child.

A Feast for Crows

After the death of the Red Viper of Dorne, Obara Sand, and her sisters meet Prince Doran and demand vengeance for their father’s death. To prevent problems, Doran tasks Areo Hotah, his guard, to arrest Obara and all her sisters.

A Dance with Dragons

After Oberyn’s death, Cersei sends Ser Balon Swann to Dorne with Gregor’s skull to ease the tension between the Iron Throne and Dorne. Doran reveals his plan to the Sand Snakes and sends them on various missions to achieve his goal.

Relevance in Adaptations

In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Oberyn Martell got portrayed by Pedro Pascal. He appeared in season 4 and starred in 7 episodes. Oberyn was a lusty man with a bad temper. When he headed to King’s Landing, he fought as Tyrion’s champion against Gregor Clegane with nothing but light armor and a spear. Though he almost kills Gregor, the mountain trips and kills him.

Oberyn: The Dangerous Viper Who Fell

Though Oberyn was a great warrior with no fear of death, his actions and desire to get revenge at any cost led to his death. When he traveled to King’s Landing, he had every opportunity to kill the man responsible for his sister’s death. However, his choice to make Gregor talk instead of killing him changed the tide of the combat leading to his death. Oberyn was a dangerous viper, yet his hot temper led to his death before he got his revenge; a sad ending for a mighty warrior.


How did Obery Martell die?

When Tyrion Lannister got arrested for killing Joffrey at his wedding, Oberyn met him and asked about what had happened during the Sack of King’s Landing. Tyrion revealed that Gregor Clegane had indeed killed Elia Martell and her children. Oberyn then decided to fight for Tyrion. During the fight, he severely injured Gregor, but instead of killing him, he asked him to admit what he did to Elia. Gregor made Oberyn slip and killed him.

Why was Oberyn called the Red Viper?

Oberyn got named the Red Viper because he was an expert at poisons. He traveled the Free Cities of Essos, learning about venoms, and after he returned to Dorne, he was one of the most skilled fighters using poisons.

Who would win in a fight between Oberyn Martell and Jaime Lannister?

Jaime Lannister would win a fight with Oberyn. Though the Red Viper was a fierce warrior, he could not fight at the level of Jaime because the kingsguard was one of the greatest swordsmen alive. However, Oberyn may gain the upper hand on Jaime if he can poison him.

Who was Oberyn’s sister?

Elia Martell was Oberyn’s sister. She was Rhaegar Targaryen’s wife and the mother of Aegon Targaryen. During the Sack of King’s Landing, she and her children got killed by Gregor Clegane and Ser Amory Lorch.

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