Warning: This article contains spoilers from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Click away now if you don't want to know!
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ellaria Sand is the paramour of Oberyn Martell, aka The Red Viper, and she accompanies him to King’s Landing when he arrives to represent Dorne on the small council (and, secretly, to seek vengeance for the murder of his sister at the hands of the Lannisters during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion).
Like Oberyn and the rest of the Dornish, Ellaria is described as having a darker, more exotic look than other Westrosi, and we’re pleased to see that the show's casting matches her description from the books (Indira is half-Indian).
Ellaria is the bastard daughter of Dornish nobleman Lord Harmen Uller, and her last name, “Sand,” comes from the Westerosi tradition of bastard children sporting the surname of the kingdom they’re from, rather than a family name. Just like “Snow” is the bastard name for the North (e.g. Jon Snow), “Sand” is the bastard name for Dorne, due to its desert climate.
In the books, Ellaria also has four bastard girls of her own, which make up of half of Oberyn’s brood. Oberyn’s eight bastard girls are collectively referred to as the “Sand Snakes,” with the four youngest belonging to Ellaria; they become fairly important characters in the fourth book of the series, A Feast for Crows. Due to casting restraints, we wouldn't be surprised to see the show trim back on the family tree a bit, especially since most of the Sand Snakes are peripheral characters anyway. We just hope they aren't all cut!
Ellaria should be present in some major scenes involving Tyrion Lannister’s storyline next season, and we can’t wait to see her in action. Both she and Oberyn are described in the books as being exotic, adventurous, sexually active, and potentially bisexual, so they should certainly add an exciting new element to Game of Thrones in Season 4!
Are you looking forward to Ellaria on the show? Let us know in the comments below!