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Game of Thrones Season 5 preview: Everything you need to know about Dorne

Oberyn Martell's spectacularly violent death will have a huge impact on Game of Thrones Season 5. Let's find out where Oberyn comes from, as well as when S05 is meant to premiere.

Oberyn Martell
Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper: RIP

Pre-preview for Game of Thrones S05

Hey, Dire Wolf fans! I didn't want to wait until Spring 2015 to write about Game of Thrones Season 5, so here we are. According to Winter Is Coming, Game of Thrones just wrapped the new season's shooting: this is straight from Shireen Baratheon herself. That's a green light, as far as I'm concerned, to get S05 coverage underway.

Very minor spoiler alert.

A lot of the casting and location news from S05's production has centered around one particular place: Dorne. That's right: the homeland of shagadelic poisoner and tragic monologuer Oberyn Martell.

Before the end of S04, we knew that the people of Dorne were not as wonder-bread white as those from the rest of Westeros. Ellaria Sand's surname also gave us an indication of Dorne's geography. Bastards from oop North are named Snow, so it's not much of a stretch to gather that kids named Sand are conceived in a place with lots of... sand.

So, less Aryan-looking. Clothes probably don't smell as damp and moldy. Also, noted Martell when his head was still intact, bastards are celebrated instead of reviled.

(Is it un-PC to call someone a bastard these days? I don't even know anymore. By the way, one way of conveying that you have a splitting headache is by saying, "I have a bastard behind the eyes.")

 Where the hell is Dorne?

Dorne is located way in the south of Westeros. The capital of Dorne is Sunspear. If Kings Landing is Washington, D.C., then Sunspear is –– geographically speaking –– Miami.

Based on what we've seen so far, one can safely presume that it's populated by fiery people who party until 4am every day. Though exposed to a pretty small sample size, I'm fairly confident in this prediction. Come on, the Dornishmen and -women we've so far met have done only four things, nearly always with a cup of wine in hand:

  1. Talk about banging people
  2. Bang people;
  3. Talk about hurting people;
  4. Hurt people.

So Dorne is dry, far away, populated by sexy badasses. Got it.

Now please rise for the official anthem of Dorne.

Where in the world is Dorne?

So, where does one go to film a place that's sandy, sexy, and awesome? Hmmm...

To bring Dorne to life, the Game of Thrones production team headed to southern Spain. Reales Alcázares de Sevilla,  a palace complex in Seville, is standing in for Sunspear. The Alcázares began life in the 15th Century as a Moorish castle.

(Since the actual Sunspear is a functioning civic complex with bureaucracy, city council meetings, orgies, and spectacular sword fights; HBO was unable to film in the real castle. Instead, they had to use Seville; sort of like how Vancouver is always used for New York City, Boston, and wherever the hell Arrow is supposed to take place.)

 And, yes, you have to do the "th"-thing when pronouncing "Alcázares".

Apparently legions of Spanish Game of Thrones viewers have been going berserk, besieging the cast members' hotels in a campaign of fan-love.

Want to see some GoT production footage from Spain? Okay, here you go. Just like the briefcase of cash in Dodgeball, something gets lost in the translation. Actual TV production is not particularly interesting to watch.

The fifth season of Game of Thrones will see Jaime Lannister spend some time in Dorne, which I'm told is a departure from the books. (As a non-book-reader, my experience with the story is wholly formed by the HBO series and fan-made mashups that it spawns, so I'm taking my friends' word for it and hoping they're not just trolling the shit out of me). The sheer volume of Mountain-vs- Viper image macros could give Dorne the idea that the rest of the kingdom is taking Oberyn Martell's death too lightly, so Jaime's diplomacy skills will be put to the test.

New cast members for GoT S05

The awesome Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) is playing Obara Sand, one of Oberyn Martell's (many) bastard daughters. I wonder how many he has. Maybe HBO will have to depict them via CGI cloning, like some sort of George Lucas special edition. Alexander Siddig (that dude from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) will be playing Doran Martell, Oberyn's older (and more alive) brother.

Let's meet some more Martells, as well as a few other new faces. Thankfully, actors of color are finally appearing in Westeros. It was almost as bad as BBC's Sherlock in that regard until now.

At any rate, Enzo Cilenti, who plays a dude called Yezzan, spoke for new cast members and fans alike when he said he was "frothing with excitement."

Meanwhile, it looks like Icelandic power-lifter Hafþór Björnsson will reprise his role as Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane in S05. We'll have to see how The Mountain handles ex-Maester Qyburn's dodgy blood transfusion after getting poisoned by Oberyn Martell, but Björnsson is the first actor to reprise the role of Gregor Clegane.

When does Game of Thrones S05 air?

Game of Thrones Season 5 is scheduled to premiere in April 2015. HBO wants its standalone streaming service to be ready by then, so that its most popular show won't also be its most widely-torrented. To meet that rather tight deadline, HBO has outsourced development to MLB Advanced, the company that handles streaming for WWE and Major League Baseball.

Stay tuned for more Game of Thrones S05 previews between now and April. In the meantime, feel free to check out recaps from Seasons 3 and 4.

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