Game of Thrones wrapped up its third season less than a month ago (read our review), drawing its second-highest audience ever at 5.4 million viewers. Given that season 3 concluded well before the end of the third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Fire And Ice series, there have been questions about just how the showrunners will be handling the as-yet-unseen content.

One question, however, has been answered: the casting of the crucial character Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, also known as ‘The Red Viper.”

EW reports that Chilean actor Pedro Pascal will play the role in Season 4. The show’s creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff sing his praises thusly:

“This was a tough one. The Red Viper is sexy and charming, yet believably dangerous; intensely likable, yet driven by hate. The boys love him, the girls love him, and he loves them all back. Unless your last name is Lannister. We found a fellow who can handle the job description and make it seem effortless. He wasn’t easy to find and he won’t be easy to stop.”

Pascal has enjoyed significant roles on The Good Wife, Graceland and Red Widow and by all accounts fits the bill – a charmer with a heady streak of danger under the surface. As far as geek cred goes, he had a part in the 2011 non-starter Wonder Woman TV movie/pilot and appeared in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In the book, The Red Viper is the brother of Elia of Dorne, who was married to Mad King Aerys’ son Rhaegar. During Robert’s Rebellion, as Lord Tywin Lannister’s forces sacked King’s Landing, Ser Gregor Clegane (“The Mountain Who Rides”), raped and killed Elia and then murdered her son – and the future Targaryen heir – at the behest of Lord Tywin.

Fans will recall that during season 2, as Tyrion served as Hand of the King in his father’s stead, Cersei’s daugther Princess Myrcella was shipped off to Dorne “for her own good,” but mostly to secure King Joffrey’s brother Tommen’s chances at nabbing the throne should something “happen” to Joffrey during the Blackwater Bay chaos.

Dorne is the one kingdom of the seven in Westeros which remains unseen by viewers, and the books describe the land as a dangerous, desert-like region – picture a cross between India and the feudal Arab world and you might be close.

They have their own way of doing things in Dorne, and the Martell family’s deep anger at their daughter’s death is one reason why the distant kingdom largely stayed out of the troubles with the Five Kings (of which three remain in the wake of the Red Wedding). One of the differences between Dorne and the rest of the seven kingdoms is their laws of succession, which recognize females as legitimate heirs.

So keep this in mind as you meet The Red Viper. Also remember: the best revenge sometimes requires patience. It might seem premature to jump onto any and all Game of Thrones news, but while we’ve had some great new shows this year (Hannibal, Orphan Black), for many the rest of 2013 is just a countdown to when we get GoT back.

Expect some kind of Game of Thrones presence at Comic-Con this year. Season 4 returns in 2014.

Source: Entertainment Weekly