House of the Dragon’s prominent character Criston Cole is of Dornish descent, which finally improves Game of Thrones’ failures with the region.
House of the Dragon will be showcasing an important figure from Dorne, which improves upon Game of Thrones’ failures after the Martells. The cultures of the different regions play a significant role in Game of Thrones’ Westeros, with areas like the North and Dorne arguably having the most intriguing customs. While House Stark gave the North considerable representation in Game of Thrones, Dorne hasn’t had a place in the forefront of the series’ universe – until House of the Dragon.
While they were only introduced halfway through Game of Thrones, House Martell made an incredible impression upon their first appearance, particularly through the characters Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand. However, once Oberyn died, the impact of the Dornish people decreased in Game of Thrones’ story, with the rest of their role in the conflicts being largely one-note with the Sand Snakes. Game of Thrones even had the opportunity for an incredible representation of Dorne through the books’ story with Arianne Martell, but ended up failing the location’s important role in the conflict.
House of the Dragon is amending these failures through the character of Criston Cole, who hails from the Dorne in the Game of Thrones prequel series. Criston begins House of the Dragon as Rhaenyra’s sworn shield, with many rumors of the realm hinting that either she was in love with him or vice versa. However, one disputed moment says that one of them later spurned the other’s advances, leading Criston Cole to go from Rhaenyra’s most loyal supporter to her fiercest foe, where he becomes an influential member of House of the Dragon’s “greens.” The impact of Criston Cole will be incredibly important as House of the Dragon’s civil war begins, and with his new Dornish background, this area of the realm will finally have a thorough depiction in the series’ conflicts.
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The Dornish culture received very little screen time in Game of Thrones, with its impact in King’s Landing waning once Oberyn was killed by The Mountain. Criston Cole, on the other hand, will be a central figure in House of the Dragon’s story all the way from Rhaenyra’s upbringing as the child heir to the Iron Throne until the height of the Dance of the Dragons. While Criston isn’t a member of House Martell, his culture in House of the Dragon will augment the Dornish influence in the series’ universe, which consequently makes House Martell’s purpose in Game of Thrones even better and more contextualized.
While Game of Thrones passively mentioned Dorne’s customs of putting a female heir ahead of a male heir if the former is born first, this tradition will play an extremely important role in House of the Dragon. The entire basis of House of the Dragon’s civil war is based on the fact that King Viserys I named his eldest daughter Rhaenyra his heir to the Iron Throne, but other lords and small council members conspired against her to place his second child, Aegon II, on the throne because of his sex. If Dorne had the final say, Rhaenyra would have been placed on the Iron Throne with no contest, which may have been Criston’s original perspective before turning on the princess. House of the Dragon’s Dorne won’t simply be represented as the revenge-fueled realm of Game of Thrones, with the culture and region having a much greater long-term impact through Criston.