Daenerys Targaryen

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Queen Daenerys Targaryen, also known as Dany and Daenerys Stormborn, is the younger sister of Rhaegar Targaryen and Viserys Targaryen and only daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen and Queen Rhaella Targaryen, who were both ousted from the Iron Throne during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion.

Following the respective deaths of her last brother, Viserys, and husband Khal Drogo, Daenerys builds up her own base of power in Essos, where she hatches three dragons, is joined by prominent advisers including Ser Jorah Mormont and Tyrion Lannister, liberates the slaves of Slaver’s Bay, gains the Unsullied, and unites the Dothraki. Daenerys begins her invasion of Westeros with her followers and allies shortly after the War of the Five Kings to take the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms from Cersei Lannister. She formally styles herself as Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains.

During her campaign, Daenerys negotiates with Jon Snow, who seeks her help against the returned White Walkers. The two become allies after Daenerys’s allies in the Reach and Dorne are destroyed by the forces of Cersei and Euron Greyjoy. After Daenerys strikes back, she agrees to parley with Cersei in King’s Landing and allows Jon Snow to venture beyond the Wall to capture a wight. Daenerys rescues Jon and his men when they are encircled by the army of the dead, though one of her dragons is slain by the Night King. Jon pledges allegiance to Daenerys, and they present the wight before Cersei at the parley, who agrees to a truce. Daenerys then sails north with Jon, putting her quest for the Iron Throne on hold in order to fight in the Great War; the two give into their love during the voyage, unknown that they are in fact related, as Jon is secretly Daenerys’s nephew: the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.

Having always flirted dangerously close to the famed “Targaryen Madness” of her ancestors, Danaerys is driven further to the brink by the terrible losses inflicted on her in the closing stages of the war; the deaths of two of her dragons, along with those of her closest friends and advisors further serve to shatter her already fragile sanity, and she embarks on a devastating campaign of revenge; laying waste to King’s Landing from atop Drogon, ordering her Unsullied army to massacre the city’s mostly innocent inhabitants, and executing allies and enemies alike.

Background

Daenerys is the only daughter and youngest child of King Aerys II Targaryen, the “Mad King”, and his sister-wife, Rhaella. Her father died during the Sack of King’s Landing, before she was even born. The usurper Robert Baratheon installed himself as king, having defeated Aerys in the conquest known as Robert’s Rebellion. Her pregnant mother and brother Viserys, fled to the island of Dragonstone, the ancestral home of House Targaryen, to escape Robert. Daenerys’s brother Rhaegar Targaryen was killed in the war by Robert. The forces of House Lannister murdered Rhaegar’s wife, Elia Martell, and their children, Rhaenys and Aegon, during the Sack of King’s Landing.

But unbeknownst to Daenerys and the rest of her family, her oldest brother Rhaegar had another son by Lyanna Stark, who died shortly after giving birth to him. In her final moments, she revealed the true name of their son, Aegon Targaryen, to her brother Eddard. To protect his sister’s son, Eddard claimed the baby as his illegitimate son and named him Jon, who would grow up to be known as Jon Snow. Eddard raised Jon as his own child in Winterfell and Jon grew up with his maternal side of the family. Jon initially joined the Night’s Watch but later became the King in the North.

On the night Daenerys was born on Dragonstone, a severe summer storm raged. For this reason, she is sometimes called “Daenerys Stormborn”. Her mother died soon after she was born, leaving her an orphan.
As a baby, she was taken into exile in the Free Cities with her brother, Viserys, by loyal retainers, among them Ser Willem Darry. After years spent fruitlessly trying to raise support to retake the Iron Throne, Viserys and Daenerys were given sanctuary by Magister Illyrio Mopatis in the Free City of Pentos. She dreams of finding a peaceful home and a place to belong. She lives in constant fear of Viserys, who hits her when his temper is risen (in his words, whenever she “wakes the dragon”). Living under Viserys’s domination has left her meek and malleable

Personality

Daenerys is polite and well-spoken but filled with quiet determination. She used to be cowed by her brother’s ambitions and his occasional cruel rages, but her time amongst the Dothraki has taught her pride, confidence, and skills of command. She is still somewhat naive of the world due to being young and living her life as an exile (with only her petulant brother to rely on for knowledge), but she is intelligent and quick to understand now that she is free to pursue her own path.

Daenerys spent her entire life living on the sufferance of others, bouncing back and forth between one benefactor or the next (like Illyrio Mopatis) with her brother, until whatever dreams they had of supporting the exiles’ claim wore off and they’d have to move on to another patron. As a result, Daenerys has never known a true home. Constantly living under her brother’s domination has given Daenerys a great empathy with the downtrodden of the world. She is deeply sympathetic to those she perceives as oppressed, while at the same time, her pent-up frustration from years of being mentally and physically dominated by her petty would-be-king of a brother make Daenerys capable of being utterly ruthless against those she perceives as oppressing others. This has produced a large amount of black-white thinking in Daenerys’s mind, and she can be idealistic to a fault. For example, on seeing the plight of the slaves in Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys becomes determined that she must free all of the slaves in the region – with little thought devoted to the practical after-effects which will result from this. A particular example is when the Great Masters of Meereen crucified 163 children as she approached the city, in an attempt to intimidate her. After she took the city, instead of pardoning the slave-masters, she had 163 of them crucified in retribution, including many who opposed the crucifixion of the children, unconcerned about any negative political fallout which would result.

Daenerys has also shown herself to be quite vengeful on several occasions to certain individuals for various grievances. When Mirri Maz Duur tricked her into allowing her to use blood magic to “save” Drogo, Daenerys had her bound and burnt alive. Upon learning the role that Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Doreah played in the theft of her dragons (and the deaths of her servants), she had them both locked in an empty vault. She is also responsible for the deaths of Randyll and Dickon Tarly after she had them burned alive as well for being her opposition. This quality might have further soured her reputation in Westeros along with Cersei’s anti-Daenerys propaganda. However, it is worth noting that she executed them only after offering them the choice of surrender, which they declined. Tyrion also seemed to believe that her execution of Randyll and Dickon Tarly to be the result of losing her temper rather than deliberate ruthlessness. Although she has certainly become more ruthless over time, unlike her father Daenerys has never acted with deliberate cruelty; when she executes her enemies she does so swiftly, rather than torturing them to death for amusement, as Aerys did.

Unlike many in her House, Daenerys has thus far not exhibited the “Targaryen madness” that plagued her father (and to a lesser extent, Viserys). She can be ruthless to her perceived enemies, but while Viserys was cruel and demanding to his servants and even his benefactors, Daenerys reciprocates the loyalty of those who follow her with gratitude and compassion, especially her inner circle of friends and her dragons. On the other hand, insanity was often a late-onset condition in the Targaryens, and it remains to be seen how Daenerys’s mentality develops as she matures. One could argue that burning the remaining men of House Tarly with dragonfire could be a telltale sign of Targaryen madness, however, both were men in open rebellion to her who refused to bend the knee, thus making the distinction different.

Despite her perceived confidence and ruthlessness, Daenerys has displayed surprisingly tender emotion and at times can appear quite vulnerable, at least in private. Her fondness for children has been shown multiple times, and when Drogon incinerated the young daughter of shepherd in Meereen, she was visibly disturbed, which led to her locking Rhaegal and Viserion in the catacombs to prevent further atrocities. When attempting to quell the opposition to her rule in Meereen, she finds herself at a loss and desperately asks Missandei for her input, not trying to hide her frazzled state. After rescuing Jon Snow and company from a wight attack – and losing Viserion in the process – she doesn’t try to hide her tears. In the same interaction, when Jon declares his loyalty to her and says that the other Northern lords will come to see her as he does, she says in a rather small voice “I hope I deserve it.”, showing a sense of doubt that had rarely been displayed before.

It remains to be seen whether Daenerys is a highly skilled battle commander. She has won some impressive victories, especially her swift conquest of Slaver’s Bay and the Siege of Meereen, but each time she had a vast (and unexpected) advantage in numbers, as well as the support of her three dragons. Thus, her victories have more to do with overwhelming the enemy than brilliant tactical leadership. On the other hand, knowing that she is inexperienced in the art of warfare, Daenerys has taken care to surround herself with experienced and capable warriors who can advise her and help her coordinate her battles. She also has a clear sense of strategy, if not tactics; she knows how to win a battle in such a way to leave her in the strongest position possible, and she avoids heavy casualties to conserve and protect the troops at her disposal. Daenerys certainly knows how to put her dragons to decisive effect in battle; her use of Drogon at the Sack of Astapor and the Battle of the Goldroad ended both battles almost before they started.

Titles

Daenerys is the second member of the Targaryen dynasty to bear her name. The first Daenerys was the sister of King Daeron II, who lived a century before Daenerys Stormborn. The earlier Daenerys wed into House Martell as part of the marriage-alliance, earning her the moniker “Daenerys of Sunspear”, which at last united Dorne with the rest of the realm. Since Daenerys of Sunspear did not rule as a queen regnant, Daenerys Stormborn is not called “Daenerys II”. When Daenerys Stormborn proclaims herself the rightful heir of the Targaryen dynasty, she is styled officially as “Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name” (Xaro is the first to refer to her in this way[31]). Daenerys is quite fond of her “Stormborn” sobriquet, however, and frequently substitutes it for “First of Her Name”.

According to Missandei, Daenerys’s full title is “Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne, rightful Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains”. She formerly used the full title of “Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men” alongside her past title of Queen of Meereen.

While she is technically only a claimant to the Iron Throne, she has been acknowledged as queen by Dorne, House Tyrell (now extinct), Jon Snow, and a faction of the divided House Greyjoy.
She ruled Meereen in her own right, the right of conquest. Technically, she ruled the entirety of Slaver’s Bay, but her main base of operations in Essos was Meereen. She gave up her claim to Meereen in order to pursue her birthright, ruling the Seven Kingdoms; however, she retains authority over Meereen through Daario and the Second Sons, at least until the people are ready to choose their new leaders.
Dany continues to claim the title of khaleesi as a matter of personal pride, even though she is violating Dothraki tradition by acting in her own interests and not recusing herself to Vaes Dothrak; the territorial designation “of the Great Grass Sea” might be her own invention or a borrowed address of respect from one of the Free Cities. Although she never claimed to be the sole khaleesi, following her killing the khals and uniting nearly all the Dothraki under her leadership, she has few challengers to the title.[52]
The remainder of her titles refer to her personal actions: [35] She took the title Breaker of Chains after the Sack of Astapor.[33] She calls herself “the Unburnt” due to her miraculous survival of Drogo’s funeral pyre, and the conflagrations at the House of the Undying and the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen. It was that same pyre that, of course, gave Daenerys her most impressive title, “Mother of Dragons.”
Daenerys is increasingly referred to as the “Dragon Queen” as her exploits become more famous and the dragons grow, but this is a matter of common parlance and not a title she uses herself.[67]

The title “Queen Across the Sea” has been used to describe Daenerys in promotional materials, particularly for Season 2, where she was billed as the fifth “king” in the War of the Five Kings (Balon Greyjoy had not yet been introduced). The title has never been used in-universe.
Daenerys is a “Queen Regnant” because she inherited the throne in her own right from her father. She is the second Queen Regnant (ruling queen) in the history of the Targaryen dynasty, after Rhaenyra Targaryen. Compare Daenerys’s inheritance to the manner in which the real-life Elizabeth I of England was a “Queen Regnant” because she inherited the throne from her father. In contrast, Margaery Tyrell was a “Queen Consort” and was called “Queen” only because she was married to the ruling king. Similarly, Catelyn Stark became “Lady Consort” of Winterfell (usually shortened to “Lady of Winterfell”) because she married the then-current Lord of Winterfell.

Relationships

Khal Drogo: the most powerful Dothraki Khal of his time and Daenerys’s first husband, to whom she was betrothed by Viserys and Illyrio Mopatis in order to secure Drogo’s Dothraki army in their campaign to retake the Iron Throne from Robert Baratheon. At first, Daenerys was intimidated by Drogo, but came to love him after learning he was a smart leader and kind man. Drogo himself grew to love and respect Daenerys as his khaleesi, which led to them conceiving a child, Rhaego. However, after sacking a village, Drogo was infected in a fight with a rebellious bloodrider and the wound festered, and he was ultimately rendered catatonic by the blood magic by Mirri Maz Duur, which also claimed Rhaego’s life. Daenerys smothered Drogo out of pity and cremated him on a funeral pyre.
Daario Naharis: a lieutenant in the Second Sons sellsword company who became smitten with Daenerys and killed his superiors when they advocated assassinating Daenerys for the Masters of Yunkai. Daenerys eventually developed a sexual relationship with Daario which grew into genuine love, on his part. She ultimately ended their relationship on Tyrion Lannister’s advice so she could pursue political alliances through marriage just before leaving for Westeros, and they parted ways on good terms.
Ser Jorah Mormont: an exiled knight from Westeros who has long loved Daenerys but until recently found his feelings for her largely unrequited, especially after she learned he was initially spying on her, for which she banished him. However, upon seeing the lengths he went to rescue her, even after contracting greyscale, she orders him to find a cure for himself so that he can be by her side in the event that she takes back the Seven Kingdoms. After being successfully cured by Samwell Tarly in the Citadel, Jorah returns to Daenerys’s service. Although they are both aware of Jorah’s feelings for her, he seems content to remain her servitor and not her lover.
Main: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen
Jon Snow: the alleged bastard son of Ned Stark, but in reality, the hidden son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, making him Daenerys’s nephew by blood. Neither Daenerys or Jon are aware of their blood relationship or Jon’s true origins. Having been summoned from Winterfell to bend the knee to Daenerys, Jon refuses on the grounds that it’s more important to ally against the Night King and the army of the dead than to remove Cersei from the Iron Throne. Though Jon and Daenerys are initially wary and distrustful of one another, they begin to warm up to one another. Daenerys becomes more open to Jon upon realizing that the threat of the Night King may be real after all. Over the course of their time together, feelings begin to develop between Daenerys and Jon. After Viserion is killed by the Night King in a skirmish beyond the Wall, Daenerys vows to destroy the Night King once and for all alongside Jon, who finally bends the knee and accepts her as his Queen upon seeing Daenerys’s strength of character and devotion. Jon and Daenerys give into their feelings and consummate their relationship while on the ship sailing North. Meanwhile, Bran Stark reveals to Samwell Tarly that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, after which Samwell tells Bran that he discovered Rhaegar had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled before marrying Lyanna. Bran goes into the past and learns from a vision that Jon is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and thus the true heir to the Iron Throne ahead of Daenerys. How this revelation will affect Jon and Daenerys’s newfound alliance and personal relationship remains to be seen.

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