Daenerys Targaryen (A Song of Ice and Fire)

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Actress Emilia Clarke at the premier of Game of Thrones Season 3.
Emilia Clarke portrays Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series.

Daenerys Targaryen, the 'Mother of Dragons', is the daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen and is one of the last surviving members of House Targaryen.[1][2] She serves as the third-person narrator for thirty-one chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. Thirteen years before the events of the series, she was born on Dragonstone in the midst of a storm, earning her the nickname Daenerys Stormborn. Shortly after, Dragonstone fell to the forces of rebel Robert Baratheon, and Daenerys and her brother Viserys were smuggled away to Braavos. They spent the following years wandering the Free Cities looking for help to retake the Iron Throne of Westeros.[1]

In A Game of Thrones, she is a shy and meek young woman who is terrified of her brother's temper. She and her brother are in Pentos as guests of Illyrio Mopatis. Illyrio and Viserys arrange a marriage between Daenerys and Khal Drogo, a powerful Dothraki warlord, hoping the marriage will buy Drogo's following, called a khalasar, in the conquest of Westeros.[1] At the wedding, Illyrio gives her three petrified dragon eggs. Her new role as khaleesi, Drogo's queen, makes her into a strong and confident young woman, and she begins to stand up to Viserys. She adapts to the nomadic lifestyle of the Dothraki and befriends Jorah Mormont, an exiled Westerosi knight who becomes one of her most trusted companions. She conceives a child, who is said to be the long-prophesied Dothraki conqueror, and she plans to name him Rhaego after her brother Rhaegar. Drogo eventually kills Viserys by pouring molten gold over his head, after Viserys threatened Daenerys's life. She feels no sadness over his death, looking on coldly; however, Viserys's death convinces her that she is the blood of the dragon and is thus responsible for reclaiming the throne for herself. Shortly after, Drogo is wounded in battle. Daenerys orders a maegi to heal him, but the wound becomes infected. While Drogo is dying and his khalasar is breaking apart, Daenerys asks the maegi to use blood magic to save him. However, the magic kills Rhaego in the womb and leaves Drogo catatonic. Daenerys smothers Drogo, then ties the maegi to his funeral pyre and places her dragons eggs by his body. She then walks into the burning pyre and emerges unharmed with three hatched dragons, which she names Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Because of this, the remainder of Drogo's khalasar swear allegiance to her and she becomes the first female Dothraki leader.

In A Clash of Kings, she decides to follow a comet into the Red Waste, a stretch of barren land. On the journey, she learns that Jorah, who has become her adviser, has fallen in love with her, and she is saddened by the fact that she does not return his feelings. She and her khalasar eventually make it to Qarth. As the Qartheen are more interested in her dragons than her conquest of Westeros, she visits the House of the Undying in the hopes of gaining wisdom. There, she sees visions of the past and future and hears prophesies: she must light three fires, for life, for death, to love; ride three mounts, to bed, to dread, to love; and know three treasons, for blood, for gold, for love. She eventually decides to follow the advice of a masked woman: to go west, she must go east. While searching for a ship to take her east, she is saved from an assassination attempt by an older Westerosi man called Arstan Whitebeard, who was sent by Illyrio. Illyrio also sent three ships to take Daenerys back to Pentos. Instead, she claims the ships as her own.

In A Storm of Swords, she goes to Slaver's Bay to purchase an army of Unsullied, highly trained slave soldiers. She agrees to buy every Unsullied in Astapor in exchange for her dragon Drogon. However, she reclaims Drogon and uses the Unsullied to conquer the city. She frees every slave in Astapor, and she then decides to end the slave trade. She sets out for the slave city Yunkai, and she conquers the city with the help of Daario Naharis, a mercenary who betrays the Yunkish. As she marches on the slave city Meereen, she learns that Arstan is actually Barristan Selmy, a knight who betrayed her father, and discovers that Jorah had been spying on her for Robert Baratheon. She feels betrayed and sends them on a near-suicidal mission to capture Meereen, nearly hoping that they will die in the attempt. The two survive, and the mission succeeds. Barristan asks to be forgiven, she pardons him and names him Lord Commander of her Queensguard. Jorah defends his actions and believes he has committed no wrong. Although she desperately wants to forgive him, she cannot and banishes him. With the fall of Meereen, she decides to make for Westeros. However, she learns that Astapor and Yunkai cannot maintain the peace she hoped to bring and decides to stay in Meereen and learn how to be a queen.

Throughout A Dance with Dragons, she struggles to rule. There are nightly killings, the Free Cities march against her to restore the slave trade, and the armies outside her gates have brought a plague. In addition, Drogon has allegedly killed a little girl. She is forced to lock her dragons away; Rhaegal and Viserion are captured, but Drogon escapes. Her advisers suggest she marry Hizdahr zo Loraq to bring peace, and she agrees to the marriage if he can stop the killings for ninety days. During those ninety days, she takes Daario as a lover, knowing she cannot marry him because of his low birth and uncontrollable temper. Hizdahr successfully ends the killings, and Daenerys marries him. At his request, she reluctantly agrees to stop disrupting the slave trade on the condition that those already freed are not enslaved again. She also agrees to reopen Meereen's fighting pits and attends the opening day's fights. The blood and noise of the pits attracts Drogon, who is immediately attacked. She realizes that the fighters are trying to kill Drogon, and she climbs onto him and flies away. She lives with Drogon, who has made a lair in the Dothraki Sea. She decides to return to Meereen and sets off toward the city. On the way, she falls ill and begins to hallucinate. Through the hallucinations, she realizes that she has been ignoring who she was. She manages to remount Drogon, and she is taken to the Dothraki Sea. There, she is found by Khal Jhaqo, formerly a captain of Drogo's khalasar.

Daenerys has been recognized as a feminist icon in A Song of Ice and Fire as well as the HBO adaption Game of Thrones. Beginning as a character “denied her humanity, physically and verbally abused, and traded as a piece of property[S 1] she learns to take control in a male dominated world. After being mistreated and “infantilized”[S 1] by her brother, she finds strength and leadership in taking the time to understand and show compassion for those around her.[S 2] After saving several women who are being raped during a Dothraki raid on their village, Daenerys chooses to trust one of the women she saved, a “godwife” named Mirri Maz Duur. This maegi ends up the downfall of Daenerys’s husband Khal Drogo, and when Daenerys asks why she betrayed her, Mirri Maz Duur responds that after watching her village destroyed and being raped several times, she was never really saved. This speech “criticized the entire framing of race relations” and “is a reality check for Daenerys and her savior complex."[S 1]

Daenerys Targaryen is a major character, portrayed by Emilia Clarke in the HBO adaptation of the books.[S 3] The role was originally portrayed by Tamzin Merchant in the original pilot, but was re-shot with Clarke for the broadcast pilot.[S 4]


  1. ^ a b c A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3: Daenerys I.
  2. ^ A Game of Thrones, Appendix.

Other references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Keyhan, Rochelle (May 29, 2013). "Danaerys Targaryen: Feminism for the Iron Throne". HBO Watch. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Potter, Alison (July 2, 2013). "Game of Thrones inspiration: Why Daenerys Targaryen is a feminist icon". sofeminine.co.uk. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Game of Thrones: Cast & Crew". HBO. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ "George R. R. Martin talks 'Game of Thrones' as the HBO show's 'Daenerys' departs". Chicago Tribune. April 29, 2010.