Back before S5 aired when I heard that Trystane would be the only child of Doran to make it onto the show, and that he’d be aged up to take front a center stage in the Dornish theater, I realized that he must be of the utmost importance as a literary character. Following in the path of some of the brilliant and insightful reread projects on westeros.org, I decided to complete one for this third-born (or as Showberyn would say, “the second son”) Martell. The result included some of the most eye-opening discoveries possible for a character absolutely overflowing with nuance. Enjoy!
Trystane never appears on page. People mention him and think about him in passing sometimes. It seems that he’s at Sunspear during most of the events of AFFC, and then goes to the Water Gardens with Myrcella. We know that he and Myrcella play cyvasse from time to time, and that when Arys was lying about her being having red spots, Trys still wanted to visit her. That’s nice of him, though the disease also posed no danger to him.
Dimples bloomed in Tyene’s cheeks. “I would be honored to arrange the wedding, and to see to the making of the crowns as well. Trystane and Myrcella are so innocent, I thought perhaps white gold… with emeralds, to match Myrcella’s eyes.“
Trystane is innocent. Yes, he’s only 13, but was Oberyn innocent at 13? I’m pretty sure he was fathering Obara. Perhaps Arianne (and by extension Tyene) are just as uncomfortable with his budding sexuality as Doran is with Arianne’s.
Prince Trystane had taken to the game at once, and Myrcella had learned it so she could play with him. She was not quite one-and-ten, her betrothed three-and-ten; even so, she had been winning more oft than not of late. Trystane did not seem to mind. The two children could not have looked more different, him with his olive skin and straight black hair, her pale as milk with a mop of golden curls; light and dark, like Queen Cersei and King Robert.
They look different! Arys is really good at digging deep here. Trystane is also quite humble and seems to just enjoy the company. that’s really sweet of him.
“I understand you’ve fought some mighty battles too, Your Grace,” said Drey in his most cheerful voice. “It is said you show our brave Prince Trystane no mercy at the cyvasse table.”
“He always sets his squares up the same way, with all the mountains in the front and his elephants in the passes,” said Myrcella. “So I send my dragon through to eat his elephants.”
Is Trys just a shitty player, or is this an allegory? There’s actually a point to be made here so I’ll direct you to this amazing essay on Martin’s use of cyvasse.
We could also theorize that maybe Trys wants to let Myrcella win so she’ll like him more. That’s kind of cute.
The princess had never been close to her brothers; Quentyn was off at Yronwood, and Trystane was too young.
They are 10 years apart. With Mellario leaving when Trys is about 3, does this position Arianne in a maternal role? Or was he maybe quasi-adopted by Ellaria given the closeness in age he has to Elia.
Princess Arianne made a sad face. “Oh, but we have all grown so fond of Myrcella, ser. She and my brother Trystane have become inseparable.”
Even though Arianne is manipulating Swann, this does seem corroborated in the text. Who did Trys hang out with before? Could Elia or Obella possibly be a bit jealous if they had been close to Trys before her arrival? Does Myrcella’s septa (Eglantine) let her hang out with bastards?
“Seven save us,” whispered Tyene. “Trystane? Why?”
“The woman must be mad,” Obara said. “He’s just a boy.”
“This is monstrous,” said Lady Nym. “I would not have believed it, not of a Kingsguard knight.
It seems all the Sand Snakes view Trys as young and innocent, even though their own "sire” hardly presented this way at that age.
All in all this is a character that is absolutely overflowing with nuance. I think it was a great idea to age him up and place him front and center in the Dornish theater.
Questions to consider:
- Why wasn’t Trys present to welcome Doran back to Sunspear?
- Shouldn’t Trys be actively squiring rather than playing cyvasse all day? If he doesn’t want to be a knight, what is his passion? Finger-drumming?
- He doesn’t seem scared of women in the way Quentyn does, but he’s certainly no Oberyn or Arianne by 13 (Daemon can attest to that). Does Trys not take after either one of his parents?
- My cat is also named Trystane Nymeros Martell. Do you think he or the book character is more brimming with personality?